Bus Transport Made So Much Easier with Hadeer
With the current fuel crisis in Lebanon making the otherwise simple task of filling your car with petrol an utter nightmare, Hadeer, the newly launched bus transport service, could not have come at a better time! You may argue that Lebanon already has buses for public transport. Yes, that is true. There are large coaches, minivans and the iconic striped red, blue and white buses that do the transport rounds all over Lebanon; however, it is not always easy to unravel their routes and timetables and most of these transport buses have no air-conditioning and are poorly maintained. However, we do know that Hadeer is taking the bus transport service up a notch and modernizing it fortunately for our convenience and comfort.
Started by four friends who originally met during university, Hadeer was conceptualized a year ago and was officially launched two months ago with initial support by Berytech. In summary, Hadeer serves as an online platform to facilitate Lebanon’s transportation sector by providing a safer, more accessible and more reliable solution for both bus passengers and drivers. You simply need to download the Hadeer app (available on Google Play and App Store) and sign up for it. Once you are connected you can know which bus stop is the nearest to take based on your exact location. The app will then give you a real time estimate of when the Hadeer bus will arrive there. The app will also tell you the closest drop off station for your requested destination, plus other nearby options and how much time you need to arrive there – both by bus and by foot (in case you decide to walk it).
One of Hadeer’s co-founders, Elio Haddad, explained that the buses currently operate from Beirut to Batroun and vice versa. The service starts at 7:00 a.m. from Batroun (in front of Bolero Batroun) with the last bus leaving there at 17:30. In Beirut (at the AUB seaside gate) the first bus leaves at 8:00 a.m. and the last one leaves at 19:00. Hadeer has allocated 100 stops in between Batroun and Beirut where it can drop off and pick up passengers. While there are no official branded bus stops for people to wait at, the designated Hadeer stops are all easily accessible for pedestrians. “Our stops are conveniently located at intersections on the highway, near pedestrian bridges, near public access parking lots and or near shops and businesses so they are generally safe and easy to find,” says Elio. And although traffic is notoriously unpredictable in Lebanon, one can expect to catch a Hadeer bus every 15 to 20 minutes on average.
Hadeer vehicles are all mini Pullman buses in very good condition that are climate controlled (AC and heating provided) and with free Wi-Fi service. While there are 29 seats on their buses, for Covid social distancing safety, only 16 seats can be used (allowing for an empty seat between passengers) and mask wearing is mandatory. The maximum fee is 21,000 Lira (if travelling from Beirut to Batroun – the entire bus journey) while the shorter treks are cheaper and priced accordingly. However, Elio says that the current prices can change due to the expected increase in petrol prices (once subsidies are lifted in Lebanon or for other reasons).
Hadeer only caters to passengers who book the bus using its app, therefore it will never pick up random people waiting on the highway, those typically hoping to get on any passing city bus or wanting to flag down a service (Lebanon’s carpool taxi service). “Normally we have about seven or so people in our buses at any given time. Of course there are also the peak and off times as with all public transport so our buses can be more packed at certain times,” explains Elio. Currently Hadeer only operates Monday through Friday, but it is planning to extend soon to be available seven days a week and for longer hours of the day.
Elio explains that the Hadeer concept is not exactly new. “It’s much like the Uber model. A user can be either a bus driver or a bus passenger, where the driver is recruited through our platform, and the passenger can access routes, bus stops, and live location. Of course, what we are doing is by no means groundbreaking as the execution and business model is practiced in other countries. However, Uber buses, which were launched back in 2007, did not do too well globally, but perhaps they succeeded the most in India,” shares Elio.
The Hadeer team has plans to further expand and update its services. Currently, it rents out six Pullmans, however, in the future it is looking at aligning with other bus owners and sharing the revenues instead. “We don’t want to compete with them but partner with them. The bus owners make a profit and benefit from our app system and services while we save on rent.” Elio also revealed plans for introducing a user interface (UI) on the buses so the driver can access all information and updates directly on a screen. He said his team is also looking into more sophisticated automated payment methods. “We are currently studying how to introduce payment with a prepaid wallet size Hadeer card or with QR code scanning.”
Let’s hope Hadeer flourishes and we can see it expand its transport web throughout Lebanon! You can find out more about this amazing transport service by visiting their website: www.hadeerbus.com. You can also follow them on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/hadeerbus/?hl=en and find them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hadeerbus/.
On a final note, from all of us at The Wellness Project, we would like to encourage everyone to contribute towards reducing their own carbon footprint, whether by taking public transport, like Hadeer, by carpooling, walking or cycling. Remember, less cars driving on our roads results in less pollution and in less traffic. Let’s all do our share. Wishing you happy commuting!