The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has developed an institutional structure to establish the province’s first ever integrated Bus Rapid Transit corridor.
The BRT will pave the way for restructuring the province’s public transport industry.
App-based taxi services (such as Careem and Uber) are not prevalent in KP, especially in Peshawar, although the provincial government is planning to establish a regulatory authority to regulate and streamline the rent-a-car system in the province.
Poor connectivity is a significant hindrance in attracting investment in the province. The provincial government’s plan to develop the urban transport system will provide broader access to markets, jobs and public services.
Data shows that 40 per cent of KP’s total population has no access to any form of transport as compared to 30pc in the whole of Pakistan. The share of the transport sector in the provincial economy is estimated at 11pc.
The BRT will be implemented in two phases: the BRT corridor in Peshawar city which has a population of 1.9 million, the establishment of a circular railway under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor that will connect six major cities — Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Mardan, Swabi and Malakand.
Poor connectivity is hindering investment in the province
The Asian Development Bank has already approved a $335m loan for the corridor which is the first ever urban transport investment in Pakistan. The total project cost is estimated at $590m.
Ahead of the approval of the project, the ADB conducted studies focused on developing a service economy. Findings observed that there has been no substantial investment in public transport in decades.
Contrarily, massive investments have been made in flyovers which are beneficial only for private transport. As a result, the urban transport system in Peshawar city fails to provide holistic mobility.
As per one study, transport in KP is mainly catered through informal public transportation consisting of large, and medium-sized buses, pickups etc. These provide 70pc of the total transport demand but represent only 43pc of the traffic. Moreover, the organisational framework for urban transport is also fragmented. There are 14 departments/agencies involved with their priorities and overlapping responsibilities.
In this regard, KP Urban Mobility Authority was established as a regulatory body to ensure appropriate integration of all transport plans across the metropolitan area.
According to an environmental assessment study, BRT will lead to a drastic reduction in vehicular exhaust emissions owing to reduced private vehicle usage.
Similarly, a bicycle path is to be constructed along the entire corridor to encourage the use of bicycles — as a feeder option to the BRT and a principal means of travel. Dedicated parks will be established to promote usage.
There are 31 stations under the 26-kilometer BRT corridor which will run from Chamkani to Hayatabad, which has the only industrial estate in the city. It will benefit 500,000 people.
An official in the transport department said a total of 80 buses will run on main routes while 300 buses will be deployed on eight feeder routes including Kohat road, Ring road, Charsadda road and Hayatabad. “The feeder routes make it more inclusive and different from three existing BRT system in Punjab”, claimed the officer.
The project is estimated to create approximately 4,000 jobs for the emerging youths in the province. Of these 10pc will be offered to women who will be provided the posts in the transport industry for the first time in the province.
Under the second proposed project, a circular railway is to be established which will connect the six cities with major industrial estates.
KP Economic Zones Development and Management Company Chief Executive Mohsin Syed said that two Chinese companies have already started surveys for the project. One of the company, he said has completed a study and estimated a 200 kilometres railway track for connecting the cities with the industrial estate.
Mr Mohsin said that the proposed Rashakai industrial zone, which is one of the priority zones under
CPEC, would be connected through the train with the six cities. Other industrial zones that will be connected are Nowshera industrial zone, marble city in Risalpur, and a proposed high-tech industrial zone in Kernal Sher Khan city.
According to integrated development strategy 2014-18 report, the economic impact of transport investment will be significant in the province given the deficient transportation networks.
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, November 6th, 2017