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Egypt - Driving and Public Transport
Some companies supply their employees with a car, or an allowance to rent one that satisfies corporate safety standards. Some provide drivers and defensive driving classes, others require commentary drives before an employee is allowed to drive here. If a driver is not provided and you decide to hire one, your company may require that you choose from their list.
Because late model cars carry a heavy import tax that can double their value, if not provided by their company and unless they can buy one from an expat who is leaving and the tax has already been paid, most expats rent one. Depending upon make and model, the monthly cost can range from $750.00 to $1,500.00+
Added March 2007 by Susan:
The cost of renting a 4x4 in Cairo that passes employer's standards is now between 2400 US and 3500 US. A family sedan rental is now 1350 US per month including driver.
At best, driving anywhere in Egypt is a frightening experience, but if one wants to get the hang of things, it is best to begin to drive immediately before stark terror sets in.
Stop lights are rare. Stop signs are nonexistent. Roads may be marked with lanes, but if they're full, Egyptians create new ones (sometimes going in the wrong direction) so they can get to their destination 20 seconds faster. Cars and trucks stop dead on roadways, headlights, turn signals and tail lights either don't work or aren't used. One-way streets may be marked as such, but it's not unusual to find a truck heading straight for you. Donkey carts don't stay to the left; neither do the micro buses that discharge passengers in any lane the driver finds convenient to stop in. If you're going to drive outside Cairo, for your safety, do so only in the daylight.
Cairo International airport offers flights around Egypt as well as direct or connecting flights to any place in the world you need to get to, but not necessarily when you want to leave or arrive. There are international airports in Alexandria, Aswan, Luxor, Hurghada, and Sharm al-Sheikh. Their schedules are more limited than from Cairo.
First-class trains are available between Cairo and Alexandria and via sleeper car from Cairo to Aswan in Upper Egypt. Sleeper cars do not provide their own bathrooms, but there is a public one on each car which, by morning, is beyond disgusting. There are no bathing facilities.
In Cairo and Alexandria, inexpensive taxis can be found on every street corner.
If you don't have a regular driver, when you find a taxi driver you like, get their phone number. For about 25 LE per hour (currently about $4.50), they'll take you on all your errands, help you with your Arabic and introduce you to the places where they shop.
Mini vans and public buses
Don't take mini vans or buses. Not only are they poorly maintained and overcrowded, most drivers are untrained, exhausted, and drive like Kamikaze pilots.
Cairo's subway system is one of the best in the world. It goes all over downtown Cairo and to the suburbs of El Maadi and Helioplois. The first two cars on each train are for women only.
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