Peoples bus service starts commercial operation on one of seven routes

Published June 28, 2022
Clockwise: A long line of buses ready to hit the road; Foreign Minister and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari along with Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and others takes a ride on the bus after inaugurating the project; the buses are ferrying passengers as part of their regular operations in the metropolis on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star / PPI
Clockwise: A long line of buses ready to hit the road; Foreign Minister and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari along with Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and others takes a ride on the bus after inaugurating the project; the buses are ferrying passengers as part of their regular operations in the metropolis on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star / PPI

• Bilawal inaugurates long-awaited project • 54 passengers can travel in sitting and standing areas • Fares vary from Rs25 to Rs50 • Six other routes to be launched in two months

KARACHI: In this era of exquisitely expensive petrol and diesel, when the people of Karachi are also looking around for alternative means of transport, there has come a gift by the Sindh government in the shape of the 120 brand new bright red air-conditioned buses, which started their operation as soon as they were inaugurated by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari here on Monday.

Though he did not have much to say, the young foreign affairs minister quickly climbed on the bus after carrying out the inauguration. Then he took the back seat in the first bus parked in a long row of buses on Fatima Jinnah Road and waved out to the Karachi media gathered outside. The tinted glass was making it difficult to see him very well as the bus started moving.

That’s when the media also tried getting on the buses behind his. Only six or seven of them were successful in hoping inside as the doors jammed shut and the buses picked up speed to follow the one in the front with the VIPs, namely Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Sharjeel Memon, Sharmila Farooqi, Saeed Ghani, Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab and others.

Bearing part of Sindh’s ruling political party’s name, the ‘Peoples Bus Service’ is an intra-district bus project.

The buses, imported from China, are quite nice, roomy and comfortable. What’s more they are affordable and accessible, too. The bus fare, depending on the distance travelled, is said to vary from Rs25 to Rs50.

There is a section for women in the front, an area for handicapped persons in wheelchairs, a section for families and another for men in the back. It is a 29-seater bus with provision for some 25 people to also travel while standing so it has a capacity of around 54 persons.

Having 38 stations, identified by red markings on the road, the buses will operate on seven routes.

From Model Colony to Tower (29.5 kilometres), from North Karachi to Indus Hospital in Korangi (32.9km), from Nagan Chowrangi to Singer Chowrangi in Korangi Industrial Area (33km), from North Karachi to Dockyard (30.4km), from Surjani Town to PAF Masroor (28.2km), from Gulshan-i-Bihar in Orangi Town to Singer Chowrangi (29km) and from Mosamiyat to Baldia Town (28.9km).

However, only route one i.e. from Model Colony to Tower was launched on Monday. Remaining six routes will be launched one by one after every 10 days.

Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon, who also holds the portfolio of transport, said at the inauguration that the buses have inbuilt wifi, mobile phone charging ports and security cameras, too.

“It is a bus for the people of this city that are at par with any international city bus service. I hope the people here will also take care of this bus and not litter around in it like you don’t litter around in your home. The PPP government also promises you to bring in more such buses and work at bettering the infrastructure,” he said.

A smiling Sharmila Farooqi was spotted taking selfies with the buses.

“I am simply loving it. It is a bus for everyone, including differently-abled persons. As a Karachiite I feel so good and proud today that finally we have a great bus system,” she told Dawn, while requesting the citizens of Karachi to take care of the buses. “Keep them clean, do not spit paan or betel quid inside. You need to also have the civic sense to deserve this gift,” she said.

Sindh Minister for Labour and Human Resources Saeed Ghani also said that the buses carry more importance for people now with the cost of fuel having gone up. “The people, who are feeling the burden of fuel becoming too costly, would probably leave their cars and motorcycles at home to take the Peoples Bus to commute. It is a comfortable option for them,” he told Dawn.

“But I still feel that those who can afford to buy petrol or diesel would still prefer travelling by their personal vehicles,” he said.

The buses are hybrid, meaning that they will run on electric battery but switch to fuel when the battery is low. Then as it runs on fuel the battery gets charged and then its back to running on battery.

The Sindh government has allocated a sum of Rs4 billion in its budget for the next financial year of 2022-23 for procuring more buses to be run in Karachi under the same project. The number of the buses are said to soon be increased to 240.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2022

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