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Sunday, 13 May 2018

Metro ticket prices more than triple over the weekend

Metro ticket prices more than triple over the weekend, to follow distance-based tier system: The Transport Ministry announced on Thursday a new tariff scheme for the Cairo Metro that saw ticket prices more than triple in some instances and changed the pricing scheme to a tier system based on distance traveled, according to a statement carried by Al Mal. The new tariff structure went into effect on Friday. “Commuters will be charged a base fare of EGP 3 (USD 0.17) for the first nine stops, EGP 5 for up to 16 stops, and a maximum of EGP 7 for anything more than 16,” Reuters says. The old system saw a standard EGP 2 ticket good for an unlimited number of stops. To mitigate the impact of the hike on metro regulars, “discounted rates will be maintained under the new system for students, the elderly, and those with special needs,” the newswire notes.

Background: Chatter about the new system had been in the works for the last several months. Transport Minister Hisham Arafat had given conflicting signals on when the hike would take place, at various times pointing to 4Q2018 and 2020. Ticket prices doubled under similar circumstances in March last year.

The hike is meant to make the Cairo Metro system sustainable, Assistant Transport Minister Amr Shaat tells Al Mal, explaining that ticket prices are still subsidized: The real price per ride, he said, is something near EGP 16.50. The company makes around EGP 1.2 bn a year and spends an average EGP 5.6 bn, according to Managing Director Khaled Sabra. Cairo Metro chief Ali Fadaly nodded along in agreement, telling the state news agency that the move — which Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said was “long overdue” — is necessary to help the company cope with its rising operational costs and continue working on upgrading and expanding the lines and network at the same time.

This comes as the Planning Ministry says that as much as EGP 6 bn will be invested in metro upgrades this year, including work on Lines 3 and 4.

MPs perform for the cameras: Angry MPs submitted urgent notes to House of Representatives speaker Ali Abdel Aal, asking him to summon Arafat to discuss the fare hike, which they said was too steep, according to Al Mal. Lawyers have also filed lawsuits to reverse the decision, according to Al Mal. One lawyer claimed in a complaint to the Egyptian Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) that the price hike is unconstitutional and that the Cairo Metro is not incurring losses, making the move unnecessary. A separate group of lawyers also filed a case with the Administrative Court.

Some 21 people were arrested yesterday as commuters protested at Metro stations, according to the Associated Press. Videos circulating on social media showed commuters chanting slogans demanding that the government rescind the price hikes, Al Arabiya reports. Some went as far as jumping over the ticket turnstiles to avoid paying for tickets at the new prices, according to Reuters. The outcry is a “rare display of public discontent as the government tightens spending and pushes austerity measures,” the newswire says.

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