Nile Taxi: An alternative to sitting in Cairo traffic

Cairo, May 10 (EFE).- The hellish traffic jams that are all too common in the Egyptian capital inspired the Nile Taxi, which lets people reach their destinations in under 30 minutes without having to breathe in exhaust fumes.

"I avoid a lot of traffic. I save more than 25 percent of my (travel) time with the Nile Taxi and arrive at work very quickly and fresh," French expat and four-year Cairo resident Renaud de Bouvais told Efe.

The venture, which started operating in mid-February, has five launches capable of carrying up to 15 people each.

The client can telephone for a taxi or simply go to one of the 18 regular stops on the route, which offers 20-minute service from South Cairo's Maadi neighbor to the city center, a journey that normally takes nearly an hour by car.

"If more people begin to use the Nile Taxi, we will alleviate traffic in the capital by more than 68 percent," co-owner Magdy Kirolos told Efe.

He said the company will import additional boats from Germany, including some equipped to run on solar power.

But the firm's ambitions don't stop there, as they hope to have more than 30 taxis within the next three years as well as one or more water-borne buses plying the Nile's waters.

The current fare on the Nile Taxi runs from 10-35 Egyptian pounds ($1.40-$5.00), which is a little steep for many Cairo residents.

Kirolos says that if the water-bus initiative materializes, expected government subsidies will allow the firm to offer sharply reduced fares.