Noura Saad works as a librarian in Giza, on the west bank of the Nile near the famous Sphinx and the Great Pyramid. For many years, she used a car or bus to get work, battling traffic jams and delays. Today, her commute is very different. Over the past year, she started using a new metro line extension that is part of a large Egyptian transport project financed partly by the European Investment Bank to modernise and expand a metro that, in places, has fallen into disrepair.
"The metro, for me, is the fastest way in Cairo's traffic, as I save more than an hour when I take the metro to work,” says Saad. "It is indispensable for most of my trips, to escape from Cairo's transport congestion and avoid using buses or taxis."
The transport changes are also good for the climate. There is a considerable need to reduce car use in Cairo, one of most congested cities in the world, where air pollution is often higher than the World Health Organisation’s recommendations.
When Saad takes the metro from her home in Al Marj, 30 kilometres from her job, she avoids using a car or bus and no longer wastes two hours or more in traffic.
The metro project and a related programme to convert railways to metro or tram lines have many benefits. They allow people to find better jobs in new locations and help them reach better colleges, becaues they can reach a wider variety of schools quickly and easily.
The fastest way in and out of town
Egypt has big plans to improve transport and make getting from A to B in big cities more sustainable. In May 2021, the European Investment Bank and Egypt signed the second tranche of a €1.1 billion loan to finance metro and tram projects in Alexandria and Cairo, the two biggest Egyptian cities. These metropolitan areas have grown rapidly over the last few decades, while the transport network has not kept up with new demand.
In Cairo, the metro line 3, also partly financed by the EIB, is the newest part of the city system and under construction now. This line has air-conditioned cars and automated driving. It connects downtown Cairo to the airport, with 15 more stations planned. The financing also will be used on future construction projects, such as electrical and mechanical upgrades to 23 kilometres of metro line 2 in Cairo, improving and lengthening a tram in Alexandria, and converting a 22-kilometre urban railway in Alexandria into a metro system.