Egypt’s New Smart Bus
I couldn’t believe my eyes when i read about a new smart bus in Cairo! and I thought finally a respectable way to commute in this city! What is very interesting is how people are reacting to it, and I think this should be documented for anyone who works in innovation (though this is pretty old news in other countries).
Egyptian’s attitude towards something new:
1. Many will think it’s a great idea.
Thank god! However, humans dwell in negativity, people share more negative stuff than positive, it’s general human nature. So on the surface crust you’d find your new product or idea rejected, or ridiculed, but at the base lies your positive supporters. So if you’re searching for support, reach to the base and circulate these feeds or listen to your supporters. That’s an important point I had to note. It would be very interesting to sort through all these comments on fb and really research people’s reaction!
2. Many will think it’s not the right time.
Since Egypt faces so many problems, people will always think there are bigger problems we should tackle first, people will always think priority goes to another thing first. I’ve faced this so many times as a designer, I’d try to solve a problem and in my research people would tell me “but we have bigger problems!”. I’d like to tell those people, we are 90 million, if each one of us directed his energy to solving only one problem it will get us no where. If someone offers a solution for a problem in transportation, and another in sanitation, and another in sports, then good news for us!
In the Smart bus case: what’s really promoted is the free wifi, though the bus offers major benefits, like RFID tickets! This means that everything would be documented with time, bus number, bus driver, place..etc, prices are fixed, you’d control the number of passengers in the bus (hopefully!). There are also audio announcements of bus stops which is a great thing, which means bus routes are predefined, which means predefined bus stops and bus schedule! (again hopefully!). That’s the basic of public transportation that respects a citizen. The wifi is a plus, which leads to the next point.
** Update: It has been confirmed that the buses are launched by a private company named Alqahira public transportation co. It’s not launched by the government. Would this fact change how you’d respond to the fact that Cairo now has WIFI enabled buses?
3- Is public transportation only for the poor?
Wifi can be a luxury for a person from a low class, but it’s air for a middle and high class person. I wont ask who’s the target user of this bus, because then we help in the layering and segregation of Egypt more. But I’d ask does this encourage car owners to take public transport? Would this help with the unbearable Cairo traffic? Would it help with offering a more sustainable environment? -I know the last one is too much, what environment! we have bigger problems to solve!
The route of the bus is from shobra- al matar, I don’t know which matar, is it the one in sheraton or giza? In both cases the bus will be taking major routes -I am assuming- either salah salem road, or kornish el nile. The two words shobra and wifi don’t mix, and thats due to our perception of what shobra is associated with, which might be partly unrealistic and irrelevant in this case. Plus they mention you can pay by a visa card! which yea, is a bit weird.
4- “Give it a day, it will be stolen”
I can say without a doubt that this is a huge assumption that we make. People steal for different reasons. If you respect a person, and value what he pays then it’s a different case. We have to see humans in a different light, if we ever want this country to change, we have to believe it will.
AlShugairi’s experiment is a proof of that, you have to watch it, and it took place in Egypt, and I am guessing it’s in one of those buses.
As a designer, I think this will be continuously the battle we have to fight; the unconscious contradicting attitude of Egyptians towards anything new.
Egyptians, believe that you deserve to live in a better country.