My days and thoughts....

Blog covering some selected happenings in my life.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

No more need for 25 pt change: Cairo Underground Metro

Starting next saturday, July 1st, the Underground Metro ticket price will increase to 1 LE. This means I will have no need to keep these 25 piasters paper notes and not care anymore for them. I really hate these paper notes. In addition to the notorious 1 LE note that is now being taken out of circulation although I am yet to see the new coin that should be replacing it, the 25 piaster should have been replaced by that coin with the hole in the middle but surprisingly the paper note is the one in circulation. So I guess that the Egyptian pound note will still rule for a looong time and the coin will be withdrawn again.

Whatever. Concerning the new rise in the price, people will soon start to grumble and complain about it. Yeah, its a 33% rise. However, of the alleged 2 million commuters using each line everyday from 6.30 am to 1am, I guess that only half of them, If I am optimistic, actually pay for the ticket. The majority of people just jump over the gates or stick their bodies after those who are legtitmately passing. No one objects about being followed by a person who does that, although many will attribute it to the collectivist culture in Egypt, but I think its because of our passivity and unwillingness for change. Many of us still live by the backward mentality of Nasser and the socialist(communist) foes or the current corruption rampant regime of the "Mob-Arak" and the Gang.

The metro ticket price is strongly supported and subsidized by the government. 0.75 LE or 1 LE may be too much for the majority of Egyptians. Yeah, the rise is 4 cents from $0.13 to $0.17 USD and it is a lot for many of us. For an average employee using the metro, this will be a 0.50 LE increase per day, or 11 LE increase in a month.But, you pay 1 LE for a great system that worthes much more than that. You get a clean train and good seats (not as comfortable as those in the London Underground) but they are very good. You get an air conditioned underground station. I felt the difference in the past hot few days and in every summer. You get more than 90% of the time working escalators (depending on the station) and they are constantly being mantained. You get a fast service compared to the stagnant traffic on the surface( applies more to the second line). You are even watched and under surveillance by a somewhat extensively covered CCTV.

Not only that, the underground is a good spot to watch new songs. I knew about that Sa3d EL Soghayar from the underground. It is also a good place for socialization where you can even get to watch young teens and couples spending some quality romantic times together. I also get to see a lot of different people and some times have a quick chat with them.

I have tried undergrounds in many countries. And I can be at least be proud of the underground in Egypt (second line more). The London Underground is the best, yet the most expensive. There are a lot of prices depending on the zones of travel and period of ticket which is about 4 Sterlings for the Zone 1-2 ticket ( an astonishing $7.2 US and 40 LE) and even more than that for the whole zones which covers area more than 40 km away from downtown London. This is the other extreme. I guess the metro ticket should be priced higher at least for the second line. The first line simply sucks. Most of it is above the ground with no air conditions and poor train conditions and a lot of other problems that need another separate post. But bottom line, the Cairo Underground Metro is not bad compared to other countries. For example, the New York City subway where people get to do their business(no.1 and no.2) and it always smell of urine, not because of being drunken, but because of the normal habits of people that treat it as a public WC just like people do here under the bridges, according to friends.

My message to people that I wish NGOs could promote is to treat the Metro in a better way. It costs a lot to operate yet it gets a little. I wish we can show the 7'000 years of civilization because we seriously have a problem here. Its the only mean of transportation in Egypt that is somewhat up to international standards. We have to act like real civilized people who want to ask for their rights from the government. This is one kind of change that has to take place in us first. I believe that caring for the Metro and not avoiding paying the ticket is a real change. This is our right too. If a person who goes to a demonstration to shout against Mubarak without paying the ticket price then this person is ignorant and hypocrite.


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