WHILE the debate on whether it is actually the most cost-effective and environment-friendly solution to the problems of commuters will continue, Lahore’s Metro Bus mass transit system, inaugurated on Sunday, should ease the burden of travel in the city. There is no denying that the project — spanking new as it is at the moment — looks impressive. The 27-kilometre dedicated corridor the 45 new buses are plying follows the main traffic arteries and connects the city from one end to the other, with 8.6km of the route along a bridge over the denser parts of the city. It is to be hoped that the project operators, the Turkish firm Platform, manage to maintain standards in service and schedule and that commuters use the service responsibly. Further, the mass transit system will reduce the number of privately owned and generally recklessly driven wagons and rickshaws that put further pressure on already congested roads.

While the provincial government has been criticised over the cost and modalities of the project, there is no argument that Lahore urgently needed a mass transit system — as do the other major cities in the country. Over the years, as cities have grown, in most places the administration’s role in the transit sector has more or less disappeared and commuters have been left to the mercies of largely privately owned, effectively unregulated public transport. Karachi, where the government once ran commuter trams and a railway, is now overrun with decrepit buses and the more expensive rickshaws. Why can we see no urgency on part of the city administration to remedy this? Plans for reviving the Karachi Circular Railway have vaguely been being talked about for years, but there has been no forward movement. As for Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the state’s role in providing public transport is so minimal as to be indistinguishable. City administrations need to wake up to the fact that merely building more and more roads is a route to nowhere and environmentally disastrous to boot; the long-term solution to traffic congestion in expanding urban areas lies in mass transit systems and reducing the number of vehicles on the roads.

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Comments (4)

M. Asghar
February 12, 2013 11:20 am
Lahore's Tram and Bus transport system is the beginning of wider one for the cultural capital of the country..
Zahid Yusuf
February 12, 2013 8:44 am
In one of the talk shows yesterday, I was pretty impressed with the details presented therein relating to the development work carried out by Punjab versus other Provinces. The main focus was as to how the newly executed Metro Bus System will benefit the common man. I tuned in to this Talk Show when I reached home after having remained stuck for 3 hours in Traffic Jam near Gharibabad, Karachi due to a Dharna by the residents of this locality (which was 4th in 10 days), which had served me with an additional dose of frustration and disquite over the apathy being persistently shown by Provincial Leadership of Sindh. Although it is an open secret that Stakeholders in Karachi will not play their role in executing developmental projects in Karachi or inInterior Sindh due to political expediency or incompetence, but at least they can play their little role to mitigate the daily sufferings of citizens in the shape of Rallies, Strikes, Protests and Shutter-downs which not only cause discomfort and inconvenience to Motorists/Motorcyclists, Rickshaws, Taxis, Ambulances etc due to gridlock but also make them soft targets of mugging and snatching of the valuables, which immediately start once there is a traffic jam on any road/avenue. Lest should I forget, Congratulations to Lahore and other Cities to Punjab for having effective and sincere leadership. ZAHID YUSUF
Fuzail Z. Ahmad
February 12, 2013 6:48 am
Great editorial. The shift in (self) employment and business opportunities from some to other sectors notwithstanding, it is indeed a raise in public transport standards. It also established that such massive initiatives can be implemented in less than 2 years, if there is an idea champion like Shahbaz Shareef. In Karachi, the circular railway line also needs to be utilized. Why did PPP provincial government trashed the program developed by Mustafa Kamal led city government is a real shame.
Imtiaz
February 12, 2013 12:05 pm
Indians have laid near about 200 kms of metro line in Delhi City and another 10 more cities are going to get the metro services soon. We are trumpeting about the miniscule Bus Transit System in a big metropolis like Lahore. Even a medium sized indian city like Ahmedabad runs around 75 kms BRTS service for its residents. I think our rulers have long forgot competing with our rival on economic grounds
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