A Tale of Black and White

Please select a featured image for your post

No streets are fuller, louder and more colorful that the streets of Cairo, the pulsing heart of Egypt. Red bus, mini bus, micro bus, CTA, old cab, yellow cab, donkey cart, simply put public transport is a colorful mess. The introduction of the Yellow cabs through different taxi companies set a new standard in commuting, clean cars, air-conditioned and moreover free of bargaining due to the set meter. Shortly, after the Yellow cabs were not as bright and clean as promised, constant delays, lack of cleanliness, reckless drivers and mediocre management have somewhat stained the oh so Yellow reputation of these private taxis. With the increase of traffic, the need to revive crisis struck car dealers as well as limit the amount of environmentally hazardous black and white taxis on the streets a reform was needed, thus the “White Taxi Project” has been called to life in April 2009.

This new taxi replacement project initiated by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with local car manufacturers and banks allows taxi drivers to opt for the choice between Lada, Speranza, Peugeot, Hyuandai Verna and the Lanos. The payments are settled through car loans from either Banque Misr, National Bank of Egypt and the Bank of Alexandria. The idea for the project came about when the Traffic Law came into effect in June 2008 including Article 121 of the law stating that licenses will not be renewed for any taxi driver whose car is older than 20 years. Those drivers have until the expiration of either their car registration or their chauffeur’s license to replace their vehicles. The old taxi’s model cannot be older than 1989 and the driver must present his national ID card, a modern facility document, rent or ownership papers and a copy from the old taxi’s license. The loan mustn’t exceed 70,000 LE and the minimum amount is 20,000 LE and the driver must be between 21 and 70 years of age. The loan is provided for 12 months and cannot exceed 60 months.

The White Cab has been a part of our streets since last April as it is serving a lot of citizens who have had it from the black and white taxi fee bargains and the crammed CTA buses. “They are much better and clean compared to the regular taxis, I don’t get out of the cab all dusty, but most drivers don’t put on the AC to save which is a big disadvantage”, explains Daliah Hussein, 19 years and frequent user. Other citizens find it’s the final solution for saving money for your everyday transportation, “its a lot better for long distances, and the ride that used to cost 25 LE in the old taxi costs about 18 LE in the white cab, but its disadvantage is that you also pay if the taxi stops for traffic as there is a meter recording the minutes”, comments Ahmed Al Sayed, 30. For many, the White Cabs are a signal of hope as the black and white cab drivers used to be responsible for their daily street arguments and no more long faces going to work after the White Cab meter, “ I was in a hurry going to the airport and I didn’t find a White cab so I took the old black and white one, after I got out I gave the driver the same amount of money I give to the White one and he didn’t accept the money, I told him that the exact same amount of money I give to the White Cab and he just burst out cursing the White Cab and saying that it is responsible for his unfortunate luck. I didn’t give him any money and I ran off!” tells Sherif Erfan, 23.

Of course it’s not always sunshine and smiley faces in the new taxi scene as many drivers pretend their new meters are broken or they simply convince you that the meter showed a certain amount when it’s a way different one; “I think the new White Cab is similar to the old ones as again they don’t hand you a receipt so what’s new here, I would be tricked again?” asks Rania Abdel Halim, 26, she thinks that there should be a stricter technique to avoid bargains with the driver. “I have been living in Egypt for a year now since I came back from London and I always bargain with the driver as when they hear my poor Arabic they start to tell me false meter records, but I got used to it and I now shout and point at the meter while I’m handing them the money”, adds Shaimaa Ahmed, 27.

On the other hand, some White Cab drivers aren’t satisfied with the new cabs as they feel that it’s not offering any benefits for them, “it’s not better at all, as some customers prefer the black and white cab so they could negotiate the amount of money, also if I didn’t pay the installment for two months, they could take the cab from me and sometimes I just can’s pay”, explains Shaker Mohamed, 39. But for other drivers it is a lot better than the old taxis, “well it’s new, so I don’t need to fix it all the time as I used to, it’s also clean and comforting for the customer” states Galal Zaki, 53.

In addition to good services and money saving, White Cabs are introducing new marketing solutions in the city today as it offers an eye-level, transit advertising that makes it a demand-driven medium following the population flow and targeting pedestrians, vehicular and in-taxi audiences throughout the day. According to New Cairo news, the average consumer in Egypt spends 15 hours in the car weekly and consumers aged between18-30 years even spend 24 hours a week. Henkel, for instance, just launched an advertising campaign on the white cabs which received very thriving feedback “the company was very thrilled about this campaign, it has gained us a phenomenal feedback”, tells Dina Medhat, Henkel Media Planner, Initiative.

As White Cabs are gaining more and more customers, the competition between the White Cab and the Yellow Cab, which had been in the market since 2006, is quite evident. Eslam El Sebai, Commercial Sector Manager at City Cab, thinks that City Cab is offering more benefits to citizens than any other cab; “it’s different as it is an entity to which people could provide feedback and report disadvantages to and that provides safety for women and children” he tells us. Other than safety, City Cab offers unique benefits than any other means of transportation in Egypt as there is a cab delivery you can ask by phone and you don’t have to walk two blocks to find a taxi, “the service level is much different than other cabs as there is a customer service department in our office and we provide customer subscription which makes you able to find an everyday cab waiting at your gate as long as you wish to subscribe with us”, he adds. City Cab is introducing not only yellow cabs but also pink cabs ‘for women only’ which are driven by women for women! “We are starting to recruit women drivers nowadays via newspapers ads and we are getting a lot of female job seekers which will make a change in the cab scene in Egypt”, El Sebai says.

So yellow, white, pink or checkered a taxi is about convenient mobility that should be clean, fairly priced and standardized to secure a certain level of quality for the customer and equally assure the driver a fair chance of sustainability to make a decent living.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.