Commuting is a hassle in Pakistan. Badly constructed roads, potholes, annoyed drivers and a lack of affordable transport options are a nightmare for most.
An Egyptian bus-hailing service named Swvl has launched in Lahore, which provides affordable and comfortable buses for daily commute.
It is similar to the coaches and buses which run in the city, but instead of a first-come-first-serve system, the booking has to be made online.
The company currently has a fleet of air-conditioned 13-seater Hiaces and 21-seater buses. It has hired both full-time and part-time drivers who are paid on a per-ride basis.
The rates are charged according to the distance, starting from Rs50 for a 25km ride. There’s no surge pricing which means that the rates are fixed and don’t change in rush hours.
The payment option is cash, but an online payment option will be introduced soon too.
Swvl was founded by three young Egyptian entrepreneurs: Mostafa Kandil, the CEO, Mahmoud Nouh, the COO and Ahmed Sabbah, the CTO.
“Our target market consists of young individuals who value comfort and reliability while being financially prudent,” General Manager Shahzeb Memon told SAMAA Digital. “These boys and girls are always on the go and want a new-age, efficient mode of travel,” he said.
Memon explained that the service is not just targeting previous ride-hailing users but creating options for a large chunk of the Pakistani population who could previously not afford to use ride-hailing services.
When asked how Swvl aims to make its place in the market, Memon said, “We offer a transport service at a price cheaper than rickshaws, cars, taxis or other ride-hailing services”.
How can you book a ride?
The process is simple. All you have to do is download the app from Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store. You can explore the existing routes or enter your pickup and drop-off locations.
The app shows the estimated walking time to the pickup station, where the bus will pick you at a designated time. The bus will drop you off at your selected drop-off station after which you have to walk towards your final destination point.
A live tracking option is available, through which you can see the location of the booked vehicle and reach your chosen pickup point on time.
Swvl operates at the following routes in Lahore:
Askari 11 – DHA – Main Blvd – China Chowk
Askari 11 – DHA – Bahria Town
PKLI DHA Phase 6 – Ferozepur Road
DHA Phase 6- Johar Town- Valencia
Shad Bagh – GT Road – Shalimar Link Road- Ferozpur Road
Wapda Town- Faisal Town- Gulberg- Jail Road
Jallo- Mughalpura Underpass- Mall Road Underpass – Thokar Niaz Baig
Shalimar Link Road – Canal Road – Multan Road – Bahria Town
They plan to have a presence across Lahore with curated travel options for their customers. The service will expand to Karachi by the end of the year.
The company aims to offer quality customer service and maximum number of routes. As they have already made their mark in Kenya and Egypt, they believe their expansion to Pakistan would be a success.
“Our reputation across Egypt and Kenya speaks volumes about how we have become an integral part of the daily lives of people,” Memon remarked. He believes that Swvl’s strength lies in the technology platform and localized consumer service and experiences.