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Sunday, 13 May 2018

Metro ticket price hike permeates the airwaves

The threefold increase in metro ticket prices over the weekend blanketed the airwaves as Transport Ministry officials made the rounds of last night’s talk shows to justify the move. We have the full story in Speed Round, below.

Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat declared that there is no going back on the price increases (watch, runtime 7:07) and noted that the lack of funding has prevented the ministry from carrying out maintenance works on the metro’s main line, which threatens daily operations (watch, runtime: 5:44).

The government is still subsidizing Metro tickets, Arafat stressed. The state pays a EGP 0.60 subsidy on every EGP 3 ticket, while the EGP 5 ticket is subsidized to the tune of EGP 2 and the EGP 7 ticket should cost EGP 16 (watch, runtime: 2:47).

The tier-based system was implemented with an eye towards improving social equality, since it is unfair to charge commuters the same fare regardless of the distance they travel, Arafat told Lamees. He also defended the system by pointing out that it is widely used in other countries (watch, runtime: 6:06). Even with the nearly threefold increase in prices, the metro remains the cheapest mode of transportation Egypt has to offer, he said (watch, runtime: 3:34).

The state is working to improve metro infrastructure and services, the minister said, rushing to give Lamees a rundown of the planned investments in developing metro lines. The Japanese International Cooperation Agency is expected to sign on to develop Cairo Metro Line 4 in 2H2018. The metro network will cover 85 km by year’s end, up from 77 km currently. Arafat also reminded viewers that the private sector is now allowed to partake in the management of new metro lines, which is expected to help bring service standards up to par (watch, runtime: 2:10). The ministry is also looking at international companies to develop metro cars currently in use, many of which have not been maintained for over three decades (watch, runtime: 9:57).

The price hikes were originally scheduled to take place in February, but the ministry decided to push them to the end of the academic year, Assistant Transport Minister Amr Shaat told Kol Youm’s Amr Adib. He vehemently denied that the move came as a surprise to commuters, pointing out that the ministry had publicly announced its plans earlier on. Shaat brushed off reports of protests breaking out at the Helwan metro station, saying that they were contained and that the three metro lines have been operating as usual (watch the full interview, runtime: 48: 24).

House leaders threw their weight behind the move: House Transport Committee member Mohamed Zein Eldin defended the price hikes as a necessity for the metro’s maintenance, and reassured viewers that the Transport Ministry did not need parliamentary sign-off before implementing the new pricing system (watch, runtime: 3:56). MP Amin Masoud phoned into Hona Al Asema to urge commuters to buy a membership card, which would significantly reduce their expenditures (watch, runtime: 4:21). Lamees Al Hadidi reiterated Masoud’s calls and noted that students and disabled citizens are exempted from the increases (watch, runtime: 9:34).

Egyptian student Mariam Mostafa’s body has been laid to rest in Egypt, lawyer Emad Abu Hussein said. Mostafa was beaten to death in London earlier this year (watch, runtime: 3:00). Masaa DMC’s Eman Al Hossary also sat down with Mostafa’s family to talk about developments in the investigation into the incident (watch, runtime: 4:49).

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