Uber launches a bus service in Egypt

Uber, which is gearing up to go public early next year, is really doubling down on this whole multi-modal transportation provider effort. Earlier this month, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced the launch of Uber Bus, a minibus service in Cairo, Egypt.

“I’m excited to be in Cairo to launch Uber Bus, a product that will improve affordable transportation for millions of Egyptians by using Uber’s technology to enhance the popular minibus system,” Khosrowshahi said in blog post. “We are committed to broadening access to the Uber platform with a range of low-cost options that will move more people around town and help cities tackle issues such as congestion. Egypt and the Middle East region are hugely important to Uber and we will continue to heavily invest in this part of the world.”

Similar to Uber’s Express Pool service, when riders request a ride, Uber Bus will find other passengers traveling in the same direction. Because they’re shared rides, the cost is much lower. Once you get to the minibus, passengers use a QR code to check in and they can pay using cash.

Uber Bus, according to Uber Manager of Matching Science Eoin O’Mahony, could potentially “unlock a new global business for Uber, serving the $100B, 100 billion annual rides ultra-low-cost transit market for high capacity vehicles,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

Uber started testing the bus service in September to “ensure the safety and seamlessness of the product prior to its launch.” Now, Uber is rolling out the service to Nasr City, Heliopolis, Greater Downtown and Mohandeseen.

In Egypt, Uber also offers UberX, Select and Scooter services. Uber says it will launch Uber Lite, a version of the app designed to work in areas with low connectivity and older Android devices, across the Middle East early next year.

It’s not clear if Uber plans to more broadly deploy these buses, but the company says it’s “an important step as Uber broadens its platform to be more accessible so that truly anyone, anywhere can get a ride.”

Meanwhile, competitor Via currently operates a bus service in the UK and Austin, Texas. Uber declined to comment on expansion, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see these service in other emerging markets.