If you don’t have a car and want to navigate your way around the streets of Cairo with the cheapest prices, this article is for you. The transportation scene is buzzing with new service providers: SWVL, Uber bus, and Careem bus. I know you are happy but wait to know more about each, then feel free to choose your favorite!
Tell Me More!
SWVL, Uber bus, and Careem bus are re-inventing public transportation in Egypt with a very comfortable and convenient experience. You can download the applications on any smartphone. Through the applications, you can book your everyday ride and pay either cash or card. You feel safe the app provides you with all the details about the captain and the bus. You can share them with your family and they track you until you arrive. They provide you with many routes that cover many areas, including ones that usually have fewer transportation choices like New Cairo, and the 6th of October.
However, they all have a similar problem is that they don’t operate on weekends only on weekdays, especially Careem and Uber buses. This might be because they target people who work. But each one has a different aspect that differentiates and makes it more special than the other.
About three years ago, SWVL came up with its premium alternative to public transportation in Egypt, which marked its very first in the market. It owns about 200 private small buses for more than 600 lines around Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria. Also, you can have longer routes to Dahab, North Coast, and Ain Sokhna.
With SWVL, the captains are very friendly, and the buses are always air-conditioned. You can also book more than one seat, contrary to other service providers in the market. Also, they provide people with other perks such as their campaign with AFCON during the African Cup of Nations, when they offered rides to Cairo Stadium for free.
The CEO and co-founder of SWVL said, “we tap into the middle class and upper-middle class, a segment that public buses in emerging markets don’t really serve”. This is because the flat-rate one can pay per ride about 40 LE, which is quite affordable for this segment of society. Moreover, SWVL has the most unique feature, which is sending a promo code every week to some of its customers via SMS that could reach up to 100% off the ride. This was a smart move from their side and led to their increasing growth rates.
Ghady, 18 years old said, “I always arrive late for everything because of transportation in Egypt, but this was before SWVL. Now you can find buses that arrive exactly on time”. Sarah added, “when you have a problem with the trip, car, captain or anything else, you contact the customer service and they reply quickly and are helpful”.
There is a small problem with SWVL, which is that you cannot find many routes from the areas in Cairo like the 5th settlement, Rehab city, Madienty or Al-Sherouk city. You can find only very few routes.
Later, Careem launched its bus service application with the target of solving the city’s biggest issue of inadequate public transportation, similar to SWVL. It provides an affordable everyday ride with more than 39 routes in and from 5th settlement, Tahrir, Maadi, and Smart Village.
You might pay for only 25 EGP per ride as Careem assured that the bus will be about 60% to 70% cheaper than the usual rides with Careem private cars. To book your ride, all you need to do is to open the app and by clicking on “Yalla”, you have your ride booked.
However, Careem bus is not usually operating. When you open the app for requesting, you usually do not find your desired route operating. Some people commented that they perhaps only target the long-distanced routes and overlook the other regions that want those affordable rides more than others. Another problem was mentioned by Ayten, a 22-year-old girl who used to use Careem Bus says, “I liked the idea of Careem Bus, but it has a problem that makes me rate it 5 out of 10. In the app, the contacting number of the captain is not provided on the booking page, which made it hard for me to catch the bus or reach the captain.”
After Uber’s competitor, Careem, launched its bus service, Uber officially announced Uber Bus in Cairo, too.
It ensures safety and comfortable rides for the customers by also booking your ride from the application. Uber promised the customers having 80% cheaper prices than the standard Uber rides. Also, it launched buses for Sahel with only 5LE per ride.
However, in Cairo, it has fewer routes than the previously discussed apps. As discussed by Uber’s CEO in Egypt to Egypt Today, he said that this step of launching Uber Bus is taken in the context of increasing investment rates in Egypt by about 100 million dollars in 5 years. However, we are still waiting for this to happen in real life. This is because you can only find very limited routes that don’t cover many areas, along with the idea that the buses operate on weekdays only.
Have you tried any of them? Or all of them? Share with us your experience in the comments.