How to get the competitive edge and win market share in a crowded market
Digital transformation quick fire Q&A with Tayssir Hawary of Eazy Mobility
Did you catch our recent webinar on digital transformation in public transit? Do not worry if you missed it! You can watch it on-demand here or catch the quick fire Q&A interviews with our panelists in a snappy 10 minute read.
Here we catch-up with Tayssir Hawary, Managing Director of Eazy Mobility.
Thanks for joining us Tayssir, please could you introduce yourself?
I’ve been in technology for 16 years now and in transit for just over 6 years. I decided to focus on the technology aspects by starting Eazy Mobility – a technology provider for public transport operators and municipalities in Egypt. We have our own solutions and own automatic fare collection systems, but we also work with other providers like LIT who have tremendous experience in the domain.
In what way did you help Mwasalat MISR digitally transform operations?
Cairo is a very interesting city. With a population of 9 million people, we have over 20 million people in the city on a working day using every form of transport. The traffic is crazy. The market is very dynamic and competitive with big players entering the market, including Uber starting its first bus service here.
One public transport pioneer, Mwasalat MISR, decided that in all this craziness they wanted to provide a better service. The challenges were multi-fold and multi-layered. We had to tackle the ticketing, operations and passenger information systems, as well as processes and the culture of the drivers, passengers and management.
Could you tell us more about each of these projects, starting with the ticketing?
The main driver for public transportation is to get more revenue and in Egypt the studies show that more than 30% of the revenues are lost because of cash.
Traditionally, a conductor would collect cash for tickets. Firstly, there is a change problem and secondly, people could bypass payment. Instead, Mwasalat MISR installed a payment device beside the driver. The customer taps their card upon boarding and collects a ticket from the machine. Cash payments are made directly to the driver and the onboard unit prints the ticket.
What about operations, what was the transformation in this respect?
The most important operational aspect is schedule adherence. We went from the concept of having someone sat at the terminal instructing drivers to leave based on his experience and what he hears from other drivers – no view of the traffic or other conditions. Using a transit management system from LIT, the operation room dispatches buses with a view of what is really happening on the ground.
Could you explain how you used passenger information to change behavior patterns?
With 100% mobile penetration in Egypt and the need to offer a decent service at an affordable price, Cairo changed underlying behavior patterns to attract more travelers. Besides changing the quality and comfort of the service, the city looked at how it could use its technology to increase ridership – passenger information.
Transit information on Google Maps in Cairo was non-existent, so we saw an opportunity to change that. We put the Metro data into Google for free along with the real-time data on Mwasalat MISR from the LIT system. Now passengers try to find out how to get from point A-B in Cairo and in doing so they get exposed to Mwasalat buses.
It is a completely free marketing channel and now millions of people are exposed to the bus service, where before they were not. This is how we got to a large part of the middle classes in Cairo.
You started out by saying that revenues are the main driver, can you elaborate?
Yes, the number 1 concern is revenue. Aside from gains from initiatives like I have already discussed, we now have insights to optimize revenues.
We hooked the operation management and automated fare collection data to a business intelligence system using Power BI. We can see all kinds of readership trends and data in this tool, the insight is huge.
For example, we saw that the current fare structure resulted in most of the ridership boarding at terminal stations, so Mwasalat MISR changed their fare structure to encourage more ridership in the middle of the route. This was a clear case on how management can use digital transformation to increase revenues.
How can you efficiently operate services in such a busy and chaotic city as Cairo?
You do it as you would anywhere else because it is the same concept regardless of the local environment. You need an operation room using an operation management system to dispatch and monitor buses, to see and control what is happening on the ground. In terms of day-to-day operations, to a large extent you can predict ridership demand and traffic patterns and, analyzed against revenue requirements, you organize your operations around this.
Some operators completely stopped during the pandemic. On the other hand, our customers from Hong Kong have maintained operations throughout. What is the current state of your operations?
Speaking to different operators they are struggling right now, revenues are down 10-20 percent. The government has announced measures to start getting life back to normal, but services need to run at 50 percent capacity for the foreseeable future and everyone must wear masks.
Mobile and social media in Egypt is prevalent and so we distribute notifications on the mobile app and the operator uses social media as well – the 2 most effective ways.
With the advent of new mobility providers and mobility as a service – how do you approach your role as a bus operator in this ecosystem?
We are a technology provider, so it presents an opportunity for us. In Cairo we have people moving in all different ways – subways, big buses, minibuses, microbuses, small operators, big operators, individual operators, tuk-tuks and taxis. The requirement to offer one place for customers to plan and pay for their trips using all options is a great and exciting opportunity.
A huge thank you to Tayssir for giving us a view into his world and for his valuable insight. Hear the full discussion to discover new ideas and strategies on how to cope with digital challenges – now available to watch here.