Egypt's metro officials demand fare hike amid government reluctance

Ayat Al-Tawy, Monday 25 Aug 2014

Egypt's subway officials demand higher fares to offset millions of pounds of monthly losses; El-Sisi says price rise is unlikely

File Photo: Egypt Metro (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's metro officials have renewed calls for a higher ticket price amid substantial losses the vital mode of transport has been suffering and government hesitation.

While the country's subway has provided a cheap means of transport for millions of average Egyptians for some ten years without a fare increase, demands by metro officials have been rising in recent weeks to push the price of the LE1 ticket up to twofold.

The facility's losses across its three lines and 64 stations have amounted to LE180 million (around $25 million) in the fiscal year 2013/2014.

Revenues stemming from the low ticket price are no match for the enormous expenses for power, routine maintenance and security, said the chief of the metro operator.

The metro's third line, which is the shortest and most recently inaugurated, has incurred a monthly deficit of LE4 million ($570,000) alone, Ali Fadaly, head of the Egyptian Co. for Metro Management and Operation (ECMMO) told Ahram Online.

"The line's receipts are around LE2 million ($285,000) a month and we spend some LE6 million ($857,000) on the maintenance bill, salaries and the other elements, meaning that we face a monthly deficit of LE4 million ($570,000) of the third line alone," Fadaly said.

ECMMO employs around some 7,500 employees.

The older the 26-year-old service grows, the more maintenance costs it faces, officials say.

The executive emphasised they have repeatedly been calling for a twofold rise in ticket price to LE2 , something he argues will not deeply affect average Egyptians. Authorities seem to be reluctant though, as such a move is one that analysts say might provoke a public backlash among Egyptians who are still bearing the brunt of an economy battered by three years of political turmoil.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stated there will be no rise in ticket price.

"Lifting the subsidy on metro ticket prices will cause them to rise to LE9," El-Sisi said during a meeting with local newspaper editors on Sunday, as quoted by the official news agency MENA.

El-Sisi stressed that the government would continue to subsidise public transportation, namely the metro, taking into consideration the "economic difficulties" from which Egyptians have been suffering

Over 3.5 million commuters in the sprawling metropolis of Greater Cairo's 21 million inhabitants rely on the service for their daily travel, according to official estimates by the country's national tunnels authority. Cairo has for years wrestled with an insurmountable traffic congestion problem on its chaotic, crowded streets.

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