How Do You Solve Traffic Congestion in Cairo? With Helicopters Taxis, Apparently

Desperation and an entrenched car-culture is pushing Cairenes towards outlandish solutions to their hellish traffic congestion

In the bursting-at-the-seams megacity of Cairo, it seems that there is no escaping the traffic. Roads grind to standstill for hours most days and the traffic jams are only getting worse as the Egyptian population simultaneously heads to Cairo every morning either to work or in search of a job. However, one organisation has decided that if there is no space on the road than the solution is take to the air and introduce the ‘Helicopter Taxi’.

Yep, you read right. According to Al-Arabiya, an Egyptian aviation company will be launching a flying taxi project as part of a plan to solve traffic problems in the city. Five turbo helicopters have already been purchased so that people can be flown around Egypt and Cairo whilst avoiding the traffic below. As well as plans for fire fighting and medical evacuation helicopters, these flying taxis will also be “affordable to all people” wishing for a stress-free (and let’s face it a more exciting) Monday morning commute. However, something’s not adding up.

Lots of Traffic + Helicopter Taxis= Lots of Traffic Still

Now, I’m no genius but how are helicopters which probably can’t seat more than a handful of people going to solve Cairo’s epic traffic problems? Even if there were fleets of helicopters (which can’t be very safe), how many people would they actually take off the road? Also, isn’t this totally avoiding the root of the problem which is a culture of car-dependency coupled with sub-standard public transport?

It seems that in our car-entrenched culture, any solution is viable as long is doesn’t threaten our dependency on cars. Helicopters? Yes! Less cars? Well, that’s far too far fetched for most people to even consider. Yet as fellow Green Prophet writer Karen Chernick states “Cairo, unfortunately, is almost synonymous with traffic congestion, and all those drivers want to get where they’re going – fast. But if there were less cars on the road (and fewer people riding alone in their cars), those drivers really could get where they wanted fast.”

Ignoring The Roots of the Traffic Problem: Cars

Less cars is clearly the most logical solution, as the Egyptians behind a recent carpoolers scheme state. Logic, it seems, has escaped some people who are willing to consider ‘helicopter taxis’ before the notion of reducing cars on the road. Not that the region isn’t feeling the effects of car dependency. In Iran, traffic fatalities are 5 times the world average at 22,000 deaths a year and Saudi Arabia has the highest rates of traffic accident fatalities in the world. In fact, the entire Gulf region seems to have a car problem as 12,000 people die there every year due to traffic accidents in the Gulf– that’s around 35 people dying every day.

Clearly, what the region really needs is more efficient and cheaper public transport so that people will seriously consider leaving their cars behind- not outlandish ‘solutions’ such as flying taxis which don’t even tackle the real problem.

:: Image via Dave Evers on Flickr.

:: Al Arabiya

For more on green issues in Cairo see:

Get a Ride and Reduce Carbon Emissions with Egypt Carpoolers

Green Tidings from The American University in Cairo

Cairo’s Climate Art of Epic Proportions


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3 thoughts on “How Do You Solve Traffic Congestion in Cairo? With Helicopters Taxis, Apparently”

  1. Arwa says:

    well, I read that the company behind the scheme is Smart Aviation Company, which is partially owned by Egypt’s national carrier EgyptAir.
    And will the following quote do?

    According to Nabil Farid Hassanein, chairman of the Chamber of Engineering Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, the flying taxi project has been the dream of several investors in Egypt.

    “This project has been thoroughly studied along the past two years and several private jet operators submitted requests to implement it,” he told Al Arabiya.
    The new project, Hassanein added, will be of great benefit to businessmen who sometimes take up to three hours in order to go to one of the new communities outside Cairo.

    “The flying taxi will connect Cairo with several new cities as the 6th of October and the 10th of Ramadan cities as well as other governorates like Alexandria,” he said.

    According to Hassanein, the implementation of the project requires the approval of several authorities, especially state security

  2. Bill says:

    More and upgraded public transportation, traffic policemen that are real and do their job, and very strict guidelines that cars that do not pass a mechanical inspection will not be allowed to be used and are immediately taken off the road. That will solve at least 20% of the problems.

  3. Yeah right says:

    Private helicopter operation in Egypt is still highly illegal. Only the military is permitted to use helicopters. Not even the police forces use helicopters. Would have liked to have seen a quote from an official government source rather than taking Al-arabiya’s word for it.

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