Every entrepreneur remembers that moment when their project first manifested itself as a possibility, and Mohamed Ehab, CEO of Bus Pooling is no different. “It started in 2011, when we were working at Smart Village. We had some problems with the company’s bus; the pickup and drop points were far from our homes, and the bus timing was very bad. We tried driving, but it was very exhausting and time consuming,” he explained.
However, the team emerged from being victims of the horrid daily traffic, like the rest of us, and became business owners. “We are a group of engineers who used to suffer from traffic jam while going to work; we nearly spent four hours daily in traffic jams.”
Unlike other traffic service companies that have just started, Bus Pooling has been operational for over two years. “We came up with the idea of having a parallel bus fleet to serve our needs,” Ehab said. “We started with one bus, and colleagues started requesting buses as well. In less than two years without any kind of marketing, we reached 15 buses in our company only, and we were doing that on a non-profit basis beside our jobs. So we decided that we should grow this idea, and some of us quit their jobs to work on it, and Bus Pooling was born then.”
Bus Pooling are chasing the Holy Grail of Cairene living, solving the traffic problem. “We are trying to provide people with a convenient substitute for using their cars which will be more comfortable, cost saving, time saving and will help in decreasing the number of vehicles on Cairo roads.”
That’s not all; given the engineering background of the company, they see the long-term benefits as well. “This project can have a huge effect on subscribers’ carbon footprint as well, and on the fuel consumption of Egypt,” said Ehab. “Just imagine, if we have just 3,000 subscribers, and each subscriber’s monthly fuel consumption in going to and from work is EGP 300, then our savings for fuel alone will be 3,000 users X EGP 300 X 12 months, that’s EGP 10.8m in annual fuel savings.”
The main benefit of the service is that it is customisable. “People create requests with their desired routes and timings, and once we have 10 people with nearly the same request, we group them together and provide them a bus with their desired route, and each subscriber will have a reserved seat in that bus. It costs 720 EGP per month per subscriber for the daily round trip. Buses are available all day according to subscribers’ request, as long as we can form a group of subscribers that need this route at a specific time,” Ehab said.
Ehab also highlighted the main reasons to use Bus Pooling: “It is cheaper, safer and more punctual. You know exactly when will the bus pick you up, and you ride the bus with the same group of people and the same driver every day, moreover, there is a company responsible for this, which adds credibility. Also, punctuality, customisation and [the service] fits more with the Egyptian culture.”
“If you use car pooling, and the car owner had to stay late at work on that day, his colleagues will be stuck and will either wait for him or search for another way to return home, but in bus pooling case, the bus schedule is known and fixed, so if someone will need to deviate from this schedule, he will not affect others. As for customisation, we customise the bus route according to the riders’ pick up points to provide a semi door-to-door service, so it will just be a walking distance from the rider’s pick up point and his home. As for the culture, Bus Pooling removes the barrier people might have from riding the car of someone they do not know and with people they do not know as well. But in Bus Pooling case, you are riding a bus managed by a dedicated company, which gives more credibility.”
The service was launched last week, and more information can be found on their Facebook page.