Proposed seven routes of the bus service.—Transport department
Proposed seven routes of the bus service.—Transport department

KARACHI: With the successful launch of Green Line bus service in January and much-awaited inauguration of Orange Line likely to be held next month, the decades-old transport problem of Karachiites is expected to be mitigated to a certain extent as around 140 buses brought here under the Peoples Bus Service project will begin their test run on June 3 on one of the seven proposed routes in the metropolis.

After the successful testing, proper commercial operation of the Sindh government-controlled bus service will start within the next few weeks, which will pave the way for 100 more new air-conditioned buses to be arrived by June 20 from China, to ply on city roads, officials and sources said on Saturday.

With the arrival of 140 new buses by different cargoes from China, their newly-recruited staff members are now ready at government facilities for the official nod, which have made all arrangements and are set to bring the buses on roads.

The Sindh government Peoples’ Bus Service is a project separate from the network of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines.

Another batch of 100 air-conditioned buses to arrive from China by June 20

“We are going to start test run of these city buses and for that purpose we have decided to ply them on Route No 1,” Sindh Minister for Information, Transport and Mass Transit Sharjeel Inam Memon told Dawn.

“Under the Peoples’ Bus Service project, the Sindh government is set to play 240 buses on seven different routes. All arrangements have been made with buses and the staffers are already there, automated ticketing system is in place and ground infrastructure on all seven routes is almost ready.

“After the test run on first route, which covers 29.5-km area from Model Colony to Tower, you will see the same exercise on all other six other routes. It’s something which would turnaround the Karachi’s transport problem,” he said.

The other six routes include the areas from North Karachi to Indus Hospital [Korangi] distance 32.9-km; Nagan Chowrangi to Singer Chowrangi [Korangi Industrial Area] 33-km; North Karachi to Dockyard 30.4-km; Surjani Town to PAF Masroor 28.2-km; Gulshan-i-Bihar [Orangi Town] to Singer Chowrangi 29km and Mosamiyat to Baldia Town 28.9-km.

After the test run, the minister said that the buses would start service on the first route within a couple of weeks.

“We need to run the buses at least 1,000 kilometres without load of passengers,” said Mr Memon.

“Once this is done for 240-buses on different routes one by one, we will then carry out a mock operation. It would not be a commercial operation and we would pass these buses under another test run with the maximum load capacity. It would help us detect any problem or a flaw needed to be fixed before the commercial launch,” he said.

Meanwhile, an official at the Sindh transport department said that in April 2021, the Sindh government had approved the procurement of 250 diesel hybrid electric buses for the Sindh Intra-District Peoples Bus Service project. “Among these 250 buses, 240 buses would be running in Karachi while the remaining 10 buses would run in Larkana.

“Under the same project, the Sindh government has also chalked out a plan to run these buses in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad as well. These cities would receive their share in second procurement plan,” he said.

Service comes after 14 years

After more than 14 years of its rule, the Pakistan Peoples Party government in Sindh has managed to display some success in its civic administration amid growing criticism from political opponents and approaching local government elections in the city.

The momentum got further pace after the Mr Memon took charge as transport minister last month and took personal interest in completing several transport-related tasks pending for past several months in his ministry within weeks.

“The PPP government is very clear about the transport plan in Karachi,” he said. “You would see things improving at a staggering pace very soon.”

He said he was personally monitoring things and almost all related tasks ranging from buses import process from China to placement of ticketing system and from infrastructure development to routes designs. “Alhamdulillah, our team efforts have paid dividends. It’s a matter of weeks now and Karachiites are going to witness themselves.”

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2022

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