Uber rolls out minibus service in Cairo

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi while announcing the new Uber Bus service in Cairo, Egypt {Photo Courtesy: @dkhos}

Ride-sharing giant Uber launched a new minibus service in Cairo, Egypt.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi while announcing the new Uber Bus service in Cairo, Egypt {Photo Courtesy: @dkhos}

Egypt is one of the firm’s fastest growing markets, with Uber tapping the country with its new innovative products.

A part of an aggressive push into emerging countries, the company hopes to draw millions of Egyptians into ride-sharing from chronically congested, pollution-filled urban landscapes and replace personal automobiles. It is already investing $100 million into a Mideast and North Africa customer support center in Cairo.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company wants to grow its global number of users from 100 million to one billion, and that the new Uber Bus service was part of this plan.

“This is a product that we built for Cairo. It will now be the most affordable way to use Uber technology to get around the city,” he said.

Cairo becomes the first market for Uber to roll out the bus service.

Microbuses, such as the ones Uber plans to use, are notorious in Cairo.

Often over-packed, speeding and veering across traffic lanes with little concern for safety and other drivers, the vehicles are the only affordable method of travel for millions of people in Egypt, where public transport is massively overloaded.

The company hopes that its safety features and feedback model will improve the popular mini-bus form of transport, allowing users to select the closest, quickest routes from convenient pick up spots. It also is introducing a smaller version of its application to run on less advanced mobile phones.

Egypt’s government also welcomes the company as it helps generate tax revenue by bringing in drivers from the informal economy.

Uber says previous regulatory issues have been overcome, as have questions over data privacy raised by reports of Egypt’s infamous intelligence agencies seeking continuous access to user information and locations.