27 September 2022

[Technical Cooperation Egypt] – work-session on commercial and advertising operations in public transport stations

The workshop was held as part of the technical assistance agreement cosigned on 12th November 2017 by the Ministry of Investments and International Cooperation of Egypt (MIIC), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the CODATU, and the CEREMA. The technical cooperation is funded by the AFD’s Fund for Technical Expertise and Exchanges (FEXTE) and will benefit more specifically the Ministry of Transport who will lead the project for the Egyptian counterpart.

Flow spaces, consumption spaces!

Commercial gallery at Gare de Lyon metro station -Paris

If for a long time we perceived mobility spaces only through their primary function as serving to transport people and goods, nowadays the diversity and diversification of the provided services are the results of many factors. The mobility approach is more focused on the passenger experience, the client, as his traveling and commuting time could be exploited and valued in many ways. Whether for a long or short distance, on movement or in a sedentary/waiting state, an activity or a micro-activity is always possible. Besides, the transit space is the occasional or regular – obligatory – meeting place for a diverse and increasing amount of people with a more urban profile (i.e. higher purchasing power and specific consumption behavior). Finally, the increasing managing and maintenance costs of such mobility spaces lead operators to find new incomes and solutions for balancing operating costs.

These few elements encourage transport operators to use available spaces, or to create new ones for the development of retail and advertising activities or to organize promotional events. The question is then on the one hand how to improve the service for this passenger-consumer, and on the other hand, how to increase the income generated by these activities.

Public transport authorities in Cairo and Alexandria, aware of these issues and their potentials, want to take the opportunities in this topic. In Cairo, three million passengers ride daily the metro, which has 65 operational stations. Regarding the railway stations, the example of Cairo central station (Ramses) shows the potentialities as it hosts 350 000 passengers/day and has several commercial premises currently under-used. On the other side, the tramway of Alexandria has a significant potential for attractiveness. The tramway serves more than 3.8 million inhabitants and tourists in the Mediterranean city.

It is in this context, and following the first work-session on intermodality, that the second workshop of the T.C. organized by CODATU was held on 17-18-19 November 2019 at the Ministry of Transport in Cairo. The objective was to highlight and analyze the problems faced by operators of commercial and advertising spaces in railway, metro and tramway stations, and to propose solutions through in-depth discussions on several case studies (Cairo Central station, Heliopolis metro station, and Ramelh tramway station in Alexandria).

Work-session: commercial and advertising utilization, feedback from French and international experiences

Through a one-day field visit and two days indoor workshops, participants from the Ministry of Transport (MoT), the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT), the Egyptian Company for Metro (ECM), the Egyptian National Railways (ENR), the M.O.T for Investment & Project, and the Alexandria Public Transport Authority (APTA) discussed the various issues of advertising and commercial operations. The participants were supported by consultants and experts representing different structures:

  • Dr. Zoi Christoforou, Senior mobility expert, and CODATU consultant.
  • M. Waleed Shaalan, AREP office Director – Middle East.
  • M. Sylvain Jamet, Development Manager, SNCF Hubs & Connexions.
  • M. Wissam Zaatar, Business Development Director – Middle East, JCDecaux.
  • Mme. Aurélie Selle, Business Developer for non-fare revenues, RATP Group
  • M. Baptiste Dautel, RATP Travel Retail Technical Director for commercial spaces.

Looking at the amount and percentage of non-commercial revenues – and specifically the advertising and retail – in the budget of transport operators, the situations are very diverse: the revenues generated differ from one city to another, from one mode of transport to another (2% for the Brussels urban transport operator STIB, to 17% for the East Japan Railway Company). However, the overall thinking is the same, namely combining the functional requirements of transport with a logic of consumption.

Regarding advertising, specific themes were highlighted: the digital transformation of advertising media, the visual pollution, the consideration of station signage, the innovations and interactions with the passenger or the organization of events in the stations.

Regarding the development of commercial spaces, the speakers talked about the need to have a vision and identity of the space considered. Secondly, the technical and daily work behind the development of retail, namely the attention paid to the customer, the proximity of working with traders, the development of new services and the adapted design of spaces based on flow simulations and accurate data also need specific attention.

Case study: Metro, Train, Tram

Heliopolis metro station:

Inaugurated in October 2019, this station is the largest metro station in Africa and the Middle East with an area of 10,000 m². It was planned that another metro line would pass by this station to connect the airport, but the project was reconsidered recently due to its high costs. The idea was then to study the possibility of exploiting the vacant space to host commercial spaces.

Second part of the Heliopolis metro station building – Cairo

The discussions during the workshop identified the main constraints for the reconversion of the vacant space, but they have also highlighted the opportunities of such an atypical place. The building of the canceled station consists of a huge underground space, with little natural light, but good conditions of accessibility, and specific security standards (that of a metro station). It has wide ceilings, several hundred meters without any visual obstacle, good acoustic and thermal insulation. These are unique conditions for developing creative ideas and innovative services. This configuration may prove to be an opportunity to develop a concept beyond the classic commercial center. The concept proposed during the workshop is based on the theme of Edutainment (education through entertainment) targeting children, teenagers, and by extension families. For example, using technological tools such as virtual reality, interactive screens, play spaces and learning about the environment, biodiversity, science … etc. Or developing more physical activities for children such as climbing, trampoline, various games … etc.

Cairo Central railway station :

Commercial Gallery at Cairo Central Station

The main Cairo train station was built in 1858 and was recently renovated in 2011. Commercial premises exist, but they are under-used and have difficulties to attract customers because of their location unsuited to passenger flows. The group discussions highlighted some solutions based on the space potentialities of the station. It is proposed to reconsider the flow of travelers targeted by businesses, the development of new connections between spaces, the implementation of new services for travelers, and the development of a studied and efficient signage.

Alexandria Ramleh tramway station:

Ramelh Tramway station – Alexandrie

The working group took as an example the main Tramway station in the center of the city. By identifying the main flows and functions around the station, facilities and services were proposed and organized into an action plan to be implemented.

The approach was different for advertising in the Alexandria tramway. As advertising is currently non-existent, the discussions focused on the possibility of removing the legal and institutional constraints and strengthening the skills of APTA to develop this project.

The next steps of this workshop would be to share the detailed results of the working groups with the concerned authorities and to consider further studies by the ministry if necessary.

>> Read the workshop program here <<