RAWALPINDI: The fare for the metro bus between Rawalpindi and Islamabad will be increased from Rs20 to Rs30 per person on Friday.

The Punjab government has given the Punjab Masstransit Authority (PMA) the green light to increase fares for the service between Rawalpindi and Islamabad and in Lahore, while the fare in Multan will remain unchanged.

PMA General Manager Operations Uzair Shah told Dawn the government approved the summary to increase the fare for the service, and the PMA notified that increase on Wednesday.

“The new fare of Rs30 will be implemented from Friday morning, and all passengers have to pay the increased fare,” he said.

The decision to increase the fare was made after the price of petroleum products rose in the last few months, he said, adding that the fare needed to be increased so that the government subsidy for the service could remain the same.

Fare was revised in light of rising cost of petroleum products, PMA official says

“After coming into power in 2018, the PTI-led Punjab government wanted to increase the metro bus service fare to end the subsidy given to the PMA to keep the fare at Rs20 per person,” another senior PMA official said.

The provincial government was providing the PMA Rs1.9 billion a year to keep the fare for the Saddar, Rawalpindi, to Pakistan Secretariat, Islamabad, service at Rs20.

The decision to increase the fare was made in June, but it was not implemented out of fear of public criticism, he said. However, when petroleum prices rose further in July, the PMA asked the government to increase the subsidy.

There was a proposal to increase the fare on a stop to stop basis, but fears of a fall in passengers led the government to agree to the PMA’s suggestion of increasing the total fare by Rs10.

The official said it was international practice for the government to provide subsidies to keep such bus services running. Passengers use such services due to the affordable pricing and improved service, will continue to do so if the fare is rationalised, he said.

“The metro bus service has transported more than 54 million passengers in the last four years, which is a good response,” he said, adding that the present system is ideal as it attracts passengers and the service runs smoothly.

“At present, 110,000 passengers use the metro bus service between Rawalpindi and Islamabad every day, and the number of passengers increases on holidays and weekends,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2019