RAWALPINDI: The divisional administration is planning to run a bus service in the cantonment and the city to meet the shortage of transport, particularly on Peshawar Road, Airport Road and Jhelum Road.

Divisional Commissioner Saqib Zafar told Dawn the government is working on introducing a new transport service for Rawalpindi city and the cantonment areas which will also connect Islamabad to Rawat. He said work on the plan has already begun and investors will be invited in this regard when background work is completed.

Mr Zafar said they did not have plans to start a bus service from Rawalpindi to the Islamabad International Airport as work on the metro bus is ongoing. The new bus service will be restricted to the city areas, he said.

He added that transporters had also been asked to give their suggestions to the government, and many private companies are interested in this venture.

On the other hand, the Punjab government has failed to begin running a shuttle service to support the metro bus on 14 routes.

The government announced that it would launch a shuttle service in 2014 from the Pirwadhai and Soan general bus standards, the railway station, airport and other areas.

A senior Regional Transport Authority (RTA) official told Dawn that there was a plan to run 75 buses that would attach to the metro bus service between Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

However, Transport Association Chairman Raja Riaz said the government should allocate routes to private transport companies.He also said local transport fares need to be increased so transporters can meet their expenses after the recent surge in petroleum prices.

He said the request to increase fares has been submitted to the RTA, with a threat that if fares are not increased transporters will go on a wheel-jam strike after Eidul Azha.

He said people would not suffer if transporters are provided a level playing field, and that wagons and Suzukis are a better mode of transport that the buses the government will bring to the area.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2019