MoU signed to operate electric buses in capital

Updated 16 Sep 2020

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In the first phase, 30 buses are being brought into service, said Fawad Chaudhry during his briefing about the new bus service. — File photo
In the first phase, 30 buses are being brought into service, said Fawad Chaudhry during his briefing about the new bus service. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: After electric buses become operational in Islamabad, it will benefit about 48,000 commuters daily besides producing eight times less air pollution, said Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday.

He stated this after his ministry signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to launch the electric bus service in the capital.

In the first phase, 30 buses are being brought into service, said the minister during his briefing about the new bus service.

The Rawalpindi Islamabad Metrobus Service received a subsidy of Rs3.5 billion in the first two years, the minister said, quoting a report of the Punjab Mass Transit Authority.

In first phase, 30 buses will be operated on different routes, says minister

“Electric buses have 30pc lower maintenance costs compared to their diesel counterparts and save approximately 30,000 barrels of fuel and Rs500 million in a year,” he added. These savings are besides the environmental benefits of operating the electric buses compared to the diesel vehicles that produce eight times more emissions.

Islamabad, which has been witnessing a significant increase in its population for the last a decade or so, has emerged as the city with the highest growth rate in the country.

The capital’s population has increased from around 800,000 in 1998 to over two million, according to the last census.

The federal capital does not have a public transport facility other than the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service, which caters to commuters only on one route.

Successive CDA managements failed to introduce a public transport system in the city.

According to CDA officials, the proposed bus service will operate on six routes from Bhara Kahu to Marghazar Zoo via Dhokri, Aabpara, Polyclinic and F-6, Rawat to Faisal Mosque, Tarnol to F-9 Park, GT Road near the Railway Carriage Factory to IJ Principal Road metro station, from Nilor Chowk to Koral Chowk, and Lehtrar Chowk to Aabpara.

The proposed bus routes will also feed into the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service which has been lagging behind its estimated commuter target.

Nespak had estimated that there would be over 135,000 metro bus passengers every day. In the first eight months, about 110,252 passengers commuted via the metro bus daily.

In the 1980s, Government Transport Service buses operated in the capital, and during the Musharraf era, private Varan bus service used to operate on one route between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. But, Varan was discontinued mainly due to opposition from local transporters. Since, then there is no public bus service in Islamabad to cope with the increasing population.

CDA Chairman Amir Ali Ahmed told Dawn that PC1 to procure electric buses was likely to be approved next week.

“I have directed the concerned wing of CDA to place the PC-1 before upcoming CDA-Development Working Party meeting,” he said and added that the CDA would procure buses through its own funds.

“As compared to diesel buses, electric ones are much cost effective,” he said and added that it has been a long standing demand of the residents of Islamabad for public bus service.

To a query, he said: “if all goes as planned, the electric bus service is expected to run on the roads of Islamabad in coming three to five months.”

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2020