Careem starts bus service from Jeddah to Makkah

KSA launch follows the introduction of Careem Bus in Egypt in December

A Palestinians Muslim pilgrim waits for a bus en route to Rafah border between Gaza Strip and Egypt before leaving for the hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, in Gaza City, Saturday, March 2, 2019. Gazan residents resume minor pilgrimage to Mecca after five years of Egyptian ban. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
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Careem, the Dubai ride-hailing platform that was bought by Uber for $3.1 billion (Dh11.39bn), has launched direct bus services from Jeddah to Makkah, the company announced Tuesday.

The service will start with 13-seater buses and is priced at 25 Saudi riyals (Dh24) each way, 60 per cent cheaper than typical ride-hailing services, according to Careem.

“Careem Bus will revolutionise mass transportation across Saudi Arabia and bring a new level of sophistication and price to our customers,” said Hadeer Shalaby, director of Careem Bus, in a statement. “The 13-seater service has been a huge success in Egypt, easing traffic flows and providing a safe and efficient way to commute.”

The Jeddah-Makkah route, which received approval from the Saudi Public Transport Authority, serves pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah or Hajj. Many fly into Jeddah airport, 85 kilometres away from Makkah.

Careem Bus is the first app-based mass transportation bus service in Saudi Arabia and is part of Careem’s “ongoing commitment to solving transportation issues, improving mobility and creating jobs”, the statement said.

Customers can book through a separate Careem Bus app, but walk-on passengers are also accepted. The service is currently cash only, but soon will be available via several payment methods, including by credit card or Careem wallet.

Careem is looking to offer bus routes throughout the region. It acquired Indian bus-shuttle app Commut in September last year and also said Pakistan is a possibility. Careem Bus may add routes in the Kingdom based on customer feedback.