ISLAMABAD: The Punjab Masstransit Authority (PTMA) has turned down the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) request to run six buses on the metro bus track from Peshawar Mor to Islamabad International Airport (IIA) as a stopgap.
“It’s a big setback for us. We had asked the PTMA to ply buses purely on a temporary basis until we procure our own buses, but they turned down our request,” a CDA officer said, adding following the PTMA’s refusal there is no immediate solution to begin operating the bus service and the CDA will have to procure new buses - a step that will take several months.
The CDA recently asked the PTMA to run at least six buses from Peshawar Mor to IIA until the CDA procures new buses.
“The PTMA refused to ply the buses in response to our request. They are saying that as per their agreement, they are supposed to run buses only on the existing Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro track,” CDA spokesperson Mazhar Hussain.
In a letter, the CDA also pointed out that the PTMA has several buses currently parked, which could be run on the new IIA route.
It could take months for the CDA to procure buses for the service; refusal to be taken up with federal govt
Mr Hussain said the CDA will take up the PTMA’s refusal with the federal government.
Sources said that CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed wrote to the PTMA a few days ago asking them to run buses on the new track as a stopgap.
The letter, which was addressed to the PTMA managing director, said that the PTMA is required to operate the route within its existing contract to implement the government’s directions and as a stopgap arrangement.
“It is imperative to mention here that the bus fleet of the PTMA is not running on full capacity”, it said, adding that guaranteed kilometres are not covered. The specification of the PTMA buses is also compatible with the bus platform’s automatic platform gates.
The letter asks that at least six buses be moved to the new route, which begins near the metro bus depot, and noted that “it may be appreciated that the metro bus depot is established on CDA land and subsidy is already being paid by the federal government.”
“Quick decision in this context will ensure that the metro track is completed within few days, the buses can be shifted and service will commence,” it said.
The letter added that a PC-I prepared by the CDA to procure buses and operations and management has been approved.
CDA officials said the PTMA was only asked for a temporary arrangement. They said the Rs1.9 billion PC-I was approved by the Ministry of Interior a few days ago, and the cabinet in its last meeting approved the formation of the Capital Mass Transit Authority (CMTA) to run the bus service from Peshawar Mor to IIA.
They said that until the CMTA is formed, the CDA will continue its project of procuring buses and once the CMTA is formed, ultimately, all those functions will be handed over.
The officials, however, said that there is no immediate solution to run the bus service but to request the PMTA, which has buses with automatic platform gates.
They said even if the CDA is given Rs1.9bn by the federal government in accordance with the PC-I, procuring buses could take six months. Since the PTMA has a number of parked buses, it could help the government run the service as the track to the airport is nearing completion.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2020