Traffic jams in Cairo, while infuriating, remain a source of inspiration to many entrepreneurs looking for new solutions to this daily problem that chokes the city, makes drivers angry, and wastes hours of everyone’s time.
In addition to existing transportation solutions Nile Taxi, Easytaxi, and Tawseela, a new service launched last September, known on Cairo’s streets as Pie Ride. Think of it as Uber or Careem for commuters; passengers share rides as if they were sharing a pie. The startup is operating with the impossible-sounding slogan, “Start enjoying Cairo’s traffic.”
The service matches three passengers, who are students attending the same university or employees in the same company, to make the ride more friendly and pleasant. Pie Ride also allows passengers to give feedback, and rate the driver and the other passengers.
Patrons of Pie Ride (which will soon graduate from Flat6Labs) can choose a smoking or non-smoking car as well as the gender of other riders (male, female, or mixed), so that all passengers are comfortable; the service all offers a range of new cars. To ensure punctuality, the company asks passengers not to be later than ten minutes.
According to May Alziny, one of the three co-founders, the service began by serving daily passengers who have fixed working hours and usually move during peak times (8-9 AM and 5-6 PM). They can choose between weekly, monthly, and seasonal subscriptions. A new on-demand feature will be added for mothers who want to shop, despite the fact that a single ride is more expensive than a regular subscription.
Subscriptions are based on the number of rides. If a passenger prefers not to take their typical ride and notifies the company in advance, he or she keeps his or her rights to a replacement ride. Cost is determined by distance and time, and rides are more expensive during peak times, a caveat also present in Uber’s surge pricing model. The average price of a monthly subscription is EGP 1000 (less than $150 USD).
Alziny's reasoning for using a carpooling model is that it reaches customers that competitors don't, as Tawseela operates via fixed routes, and Easytaxi offers pickups on the go, but not prescheduled rides; unlike EasyTaxi, PieRide offers private cars, not cabs. The team plans to launch a social function that will allow riders to connect with each other, and a mobile application so passengers can book or notify a delay from their phones.
In order to succeed, the co-founders will have to provide accuracy and and timeliness, get more individual subscriptions, and convince a number of daily passengers to use their service. One hope is that the project will help local drivers, who formerly worked in the struggling tourism sector, find alternative jobs. Thus, it could provide not just better rides for the employed but better jobs for entrepreneurial drivers.