“Yasta” or “Osta” is the title given to drivers in Egypt. For as long as I can remember, Egyptians have endlessly complained about taxi drivers: from declining requests to drive to certain neighborhoods, to refusing to switch on the AC in the summer, or demanding unreasonably high fares. Opting for a cab in Cairo is usually an unpleasant experience.
In 2014, international ride-hailing applications were introduced to the Egyptian market. At first, they were celebrated as a more convenient and rewarding option, but with time, the flaws of each became evident.
Today, there are multiple ride-hailing apps to choose from: Uber, Careem, inDriver and DiDi, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
Since I’ve been a regular user of ride-hailing apps for the past three years, here is my breakdown of their pros and cons:
The most popular ride-hailing app in Egypt and globally, US-based Uber is the fastest when it comes to availability. Since it employs a large number of captains across the city, it is usually easy to locate one anytime anywhere.
In terms of pricing, Uber is the most expensive.
This is particularly after raising its prices in May as a result of the recent price hikes. This year, Uber released ‘UberXSaver’, a cheaper option in comparison with ‘UberX’. But unfortunately, ‘UberX Saver’ is not often readily available.
According to Ahram Online, the base fare for an average ‘UberX’ ride in Cairo was raised from EGP 8 (USD 0.42) to EGP 8.5 (USD 0.44), and the price per kilometer was raised to EGP 2.9 (USD 0.15) from EGP 2.8 (USD 0.15).
The base fare for an average ‘UberX Saver’ rose from EGP 6.8 (USD 0.36) to EGP 7.25 (USD 0.38), and the price per kilometer changed from EGP 2.38 (USD 0.12) to EGP 2.47 (USD 0.13).
In terms of safety, Uber does not offer a hotline that one can contact in case of an emergency. The only available option is by reporting any safety issues, such as an accident or unprofessionalism, through the ‘help’ button on the app.
A subsidiary of Uber, Careem’s prices are relatively similar to Uber. Although there is ‘Go Awfar’, an option that is cheaper than the regular ‘Go’, the cars reserved for that service can often be too worn out with no air conditioning.
Unlike Uber, however, Careem occasionally announces promo codes and discounts for users.
Availability is one of my key concerns with Careem. The waiting time for a captain to arrive is always more than five minutes, sometimes reaching ten minutes and more.
In my experience, the one element that was a huge plus point at Careem was its customer call center. With a 24-hour service, I repeatedly called them for being overcharged on a ride, after a fight with a captain, or even for a complaint about the car’s cleanliness. Unfortunately with recent updates to the app, Careem only allows messaging as a form of customer service, with no hotline available.
Launched in Egypt in September 2020, inDriver may be one of the cheapest ride-hailing apps, but it is not necessarily the safest one.
Using the app, anyone can change from a user to a driver with one click, and no hotline can be called in case of any emergencies. For that reason, as a woman, I can never confidently order inDriver if I’m on my own. There are three safety options on inDriver. You can either call the police directly from the app, or the ambulance, or message their support team. When I tried messaging their support team for being overcharged on a ride, I was left with no reply for around 15 minutes after telling the agent my complaint. However, they did solve the issue.
Another drawback is that the price is set by the customer and negotiated with the driver, a process that can be time-consuming. Recently, most drivers working at inDriver have started comparing Uber’s prices on the trip request they receive before accepting the client’s suggested pricing. Therefore, most of them often suggest higher prices, ending up almost similar, if not the same, to Uber’s expensive rides.
inDriver was originally launched in Russia in 2012.
Editorial note 18 August 2022 – Following the publication of this article, inDriver reached out to Egyptian Streets to comment on its safety:
“We take our users’ safety very seriously, as it is one of our core values that we stand for, both for drivers and passengers to ensure we always enhance our service and provide one of the smoothest experiences our users can have. When it comes to drivers’ registration, all our drivers undergo a mandatory check in terms of their submitted documents: ID Card, Driver’s License, Vehicle Registration, and Criminal Record, we do not activate drivers’ accounts without verifying such documents. We always take users’ complaints seriously when they reach out to us through our channels: In-app chat, email, or Social Media Pages, and we always urge our users to report any unpleasant situations they might encounter. In the unfavorable situation, where the user decides to go to the police and submit an official complaint against another user, we instantly cooperate with the local authorities and share the requested data, after checking the official request from the authorities, as we can’t just share our users’ information without an official request.”
DiDi, which entered the Egyptian market in September 2021, is the latest addition to ride-hailing apps in Egypt. When the app first launched, it flooded new users with discounts and offers to entice them. However, once consumers thought they had found a safe and affordable option, the discounts stopped and the prices turned out to be only marginally cheaper than Uber and Careem.
Though it also has no hotline, DiDi has multiple safety features. Internationally nicknamed ‘China’s Uber’, DiDi has an SOS button for contacting law enforcement or emergency services with the updated location of the customer shown below the button. Users can also give permission to the app to record trip audio if they feel unsafe, in addition to real-time monitoring, where users would receive push notifications in the event of any unusual activity.
DiDi was originally launched in 2012.
All applications can be found on Apple iOS and Google PlayStore.
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