By Marwa Yahya
CAIRO (Xinhua) -- Egypt has doubled Cairo metro fare
amid financial difficulties and nearly 3.5 million commuters
relying on Cairo’s metro everyday fumed by the move, as they
already suffered sharp rise in living costs.
The new ticket price started from
March 24, rising from one Egyptian pound (5.5 U.S. cents) to two
pounds (11 cents), a move angered the commuters who deem the
metro as the cheapest and fastest means of transportation.
“Egypt needs economic reforms, but
these reforms aren’t supposed to harm the poor people,” said
Mohamed Abdul Rahamn, a 32-year-old technician leaving a
metro station on Talaat Harb Street in central Cairo.
He emphasized that metro tickets were
“the cheapest for the poor and the limited-income people to get
them from point A to point B,” saying that he is worried about
another distance-based fare increase.
The move came four months after Egypt
floated its currency amid economic reforms, and led the currency
to lose half of its value and prices to soar.
Food and drinks prices increased
nearly 40 percent since the flotation, with meat and chicken
prices even increased as much as 50 percent.
One third of Egyptian population lives
on 1.9 U.S. dollars or less per day, according to a report by
the government statistics agency published in 2016.
“There is no room for belt-tightening.
A large percentage of my income has been spent on purchasing
food,” said Um Gomaa, a 43-year-old lady who works as a
“I earn 1,200 pounds (66 dollars) with
two kids, and I have to pay 300 pounds (16.5 dollars) for
renting an apartment in a remote area,” she said, “the metro
is the cheapest and easiest transportation means for me and
The state-run Egyptian Company for
Metro Management and Operation has not paid its electricity and
water bills for 18 months, raising the debts to 300 million
pounds (16.5 million dollars), the Ahram newspaper reported on
Utilities companies threatened to cut
their services, and the German company maintaining the metro’s
elevators and escalators said its contract with the metro will
not be renewed.
According to a study released by the
Transportation Ministry in August, the tickets had been
approximately subsidized at a rate of 96 percent by the
government before the fare increase.
The unsubsidized price of a ticket
should be 25 pounds (1.3 dollars), the study stated. The low
ticket price incurs losses of 22 million pounds (one million
dollars) monthly and is having a negative impact on maintenance
Transport Minister Hisahm Arafat said
the metro losses are estimated at 500 million pounds (27.5
million dollars) which put the network at risk of shutting down.
Meanwhile, some see the doubling of
ticket fares as a painful but necessary step.
“The services have already been
suffering for months. The travel time has doubled due to
prolonged intervals between trains and occasional
breakdowns,” said Mustafa Munir, a 45-year-old accountant.
Munir said two pounds is not much for
metro as a cost efficient transportation solution, because
“one more pound could be the hope for improvement.”
However, economic expert Rashad Abdo
said that “the price hike is not the only solution,” warning
that administrative failure is one of the main reasons the metro
company is suffering and the whole administrative system should
“The company should find creative and
sound solutions. Merely thinking about increasing prices
means lack of future vision,” he added.
Meanwhile, he asserted that halting
the metro is not an option because it will paralyze the capital,
noting the country should reach a compromise between lifting the
subsidy, which is a burden on its budget, and considering the
hard economic conditions of citizens.