Careem Bus has launched in Egypt – and it will help fix one of the city’s biggest issues

Careem Bus has just launched in Egypt, and not only will it help with mobility in Cairo, it could also change the city for the better.

A report from the World Bank estimates the annual costs of the congestion in Cairo to be up to $8 billion and clearly the situation there is one that needs to be addressed. But crucially, the World Bank report added, “Congestion does not have to be a fact of life. Cairo could be a more livable city, with adequate public transportation for the many that rely on it, and safer streets for all.”

We agree, so Careem undertook a study and discovered that 40 percent of the Egyptian population is not being served by a proper transportation service that suits their needs. And in Cairo there just isn’t a high-quality, reliable bus service available on the city’s main routes that can help solve the congestion problem – so we’ve launched Careem Bus.

Careem Bus represents the middle ground between the existing public transport and ride hailing cars. We believe that a middle-priced service that middle-income residents and commuters can use every day will make a big difference. The middle segment in Egypt is currently forced to buy cars for their daily commute simply because there are not any other viable options that suit them. And that leads to more congestion and slows everyone down.

Here’s how Careem Bus works…

Via the app you choose the Car type “Bus” then select the pick-up and drop off location. This will show you all the available buses that are close to those two points and you’re able to select the bus with the best time that fits with you. Then you’re shown the brand of the bus, plate number and captain details and you can track the bus on its way to you – just like you do when calling a car on the Careem app.

We’ve already made an impact in Egypt with our motorbike service and in some instances, that’s turning what would be a 45 minute trip through congested traffic by car, into a three minute one on a bike that costs half the price. And it also means fewer cars on the street, so the presence of Careem bus will make it easier for you to travel in Cairo even if you’re a driver who doesn’t use the service.

Careem Bus is not only providing an essential service to people who have previously been under-served, it also has the potential to fundamentally improve the traffic problems in the city. In Cairo, around 50 hours per person every month are spent in traffic and 60 percent of trips only have one passenger per vehicle.

There’s a famous picture that illustrates the space taken on a street by a cars and how that could be vastly reduced if those people had taken the bus or cycled. It’s a good illustration of how Careem Bus will greatly alleviate one of the biggest problems that Cairo is currently grappling with.

To start with, Careem Bus will be using 13-seater vehicles although based on customer feedback this may change in future. But that potentially represents 13 cars that have been taken off the road. It’s 13 parking spaces that have now become free because those people didn’t drive. It’s 13 cars-worth of CO2 pollution that is no longer out there. And that’s just one bus trip. Multiply that my all the trips throughout the day, and all the Careem Busses throughout the city and you can start to see the positive impact this can have. And it’s an issue that is not going to fix itself.

The world is increasingly moving to cities and that urbanisation means mobility and transportation is going to be an escalating issue. According to the UN, 55 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68 per cent by 2050 – and commuting to and from those urban areas, there will be an incredible demand for various modes of transport.

Cairo is especially vulnerable to the increase in population and The World Institute predicts that the population there could double in the next 35 years.

One of the reasons cities are becoming more congested is because people are having to move there to work. A daily commute into a city might mean having to buy a car, but a car is still a luxury for the broad part of the population of many countries in which we operate, so if Careem can provide alternative forms of transportation to suit a range of prices then we can move people in, around and out of a city. And our growth drives affordability and choice.

We’re committed to solving transportation issues, improving mobility and creating jobs – Careem Bus addresses all three of those things and with bus launches in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to follow the effect will be felt in more countries across our region. Careem Bus is our latest launch, but in terms of impact, it could be one of our most significant.