CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said at a meeting with press figures Sunday that the government will not raise the cost of tickets on Cairo’s Metro system, shooting down statements made earlier by a Metro official that a price hike may be needed to improve Metro service, state news agency MENA reported.
“Ticket prices will not be raised in recognition of the economic difficulties faced by those who use the Metro,” Sisi was quoted as saying. He added that if transportation subsidies were lifted, it would raise the cost of Metro tickets from their current 1 EGP to 9 EGP ($1.25).
Sisi’s comments followed those of Cairo Metro National Authority head Maj. Gen. Ismail Al-Nagdy, who said on Saturday in statements to the Sabah Al-Tahrir television show that the price hike was necessary.
“We are leaning towards raising the Metro ticket price,” Nagdy said. “We have to be honest with the people.”
He added that the authority ran a deficit of around 180 million EGP in July. “The real cost of the ticket is 8 EGP and we are considering raising the current cost by one more pound, as we think that it is the only possible solution,” Nagdy said.
He also said the price hike would help improve Metro service.
“We receive a lot of complaints from the first line of the Metro, including that there is no ventilation system,” Nagdy said. “Some describe it as ‘inhuman,’ and well, they are right.”
Nagdy also said on Al-Hayah television channel Friday that the rise in the cost of tickets would be used to play public music on the commuter line, which drew wide criticism.
Social media users posted cartoons and messages on Facebook and Twitter mocking Nagdy’s music statement.
Actor Lotfy Labyb wrote on his Twitter account “Developing a sound system inside the Metro, is this really all that they can do? #deep_thinking.”
“Message to the head of the National Metro Authority: You can raise the ticket’s price as you want, but we don’t need music; just fix the fans!” Twitter user Faried wrote on Twitter Saturday.
He also asked jokingly in another tweet if he could order special songs after paying the new price for tickets.
Twitter user Ibrahim asked if the government would allow him to pay only 1 pound, as long as he brings his own music player and headset.
Many political movements and figures also criticized the decision. Mohamed Khalifa of the Tamarod 25-30 movement member told Veto Sunday that poor citizens will be the first to be harmed by the rise in ticket costs. “The government putting on this new rise is an overload on citizens, as the consequences will affect at least 4 million citizens using the Metro,” he said.