During September 2017, Egypt's Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahr Nasr, announced that Uber will be launching a service similar to how matatus (Kenya), okadas (Nigeria), and taxis (South Africa), operate in Afrika in the North Afrikan country later in 2017. However, 2017 passed and this didn't happen.
"Introducing our newest offering—Uber Bus! Enhancing the famous Egypt minibus systems with Uber technology. A product built for Egypt that will make Uber more accessible, so that anyone, anywhere can get a ride," Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO at Uber, said in a tweet.
Enhancing Afrika's minibus system with the Uber app
Uber has indicated that, as users have become used to with UberX and UberBLACK, the Uber Bus offering will also adhere to specific vehicle standards. The company has guaranteed Egyptians that when the reserve their seats on an Uber Bus using the Uber app, they will get to ride on a clean, air-conditioned, and high-quality bus.
"When you request your ride through the app, we will find other passengers traveling in the same direction so that you can get to your destination with fewer stops. And, because you are sharing your ride with other Uber passengers, the price is affordable enough for everyday use, while still maintaining Uber standards. We are thrilled that Cairo is the first city in the world to launch Uber Bus," reads a statement by Uber announcing Uber Bus.
From an Egyptian, and by extension Afrikan, minibus passenger point of view this is likely going to be welcomed given how a rider is not guaranteed of the the type of minibus they are likely to catch a ride in as well as availability. The pricing, based on the published examples for Cairo is also quite competitive compared to traditional minibus taxis.
Given Uber's fights with cab drivers in Egypt and across other Afrikan countries, there will undoubtedly be a fight back from the minibus taxi industry in Egypt and other countries in Afrika should Uber extend the service beyond Egypt, its largest market in Afrika.
How Uber Bus works in Egypt
- Request: Enter your destination, select the Bus option, review your fare, and then tap request
- Wait up to 5 minutes to see your trip details. We use this time to match you with other riders’ on the most suitable route for you, making sure you don’t go out of your way.
- You will see the information about your trip in the app: driver information and pickup spot. At this point, your seat on a clean, air-conditioned vehicle, has been reserved. You can track the Bus on the way to your pick-up spot.
- Walk to the pickup spot you see on the map and make sure you arrive before your bus gets to the pickup spot. The bus will only wait 2 minutes at the pickup spot so don’t be late!
- Scan the barcode, show your ticket to your driver, pay your driver with cash or through the app as you get in the bus, and enjoy your ride in your personal seat on the clean, safe, air-conditioned bus.
- When you get closer to your destination, we will find the best drop off spot that is close to your final destination and works for the route you are on. You will receive a notification letting you know when to get off the Uber Bus and you can see walking directions to your final destination in the app.
Cover image credit: Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO at Uber, at the launch of Uber Bus in Egypt.