LAHORE: The Punjab Masstransit Authority (PMA) has urged the government to allow it to introduce a distance-based fare for travelling by the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train keeping in view massive surge in the administrative and operational expenses.
The authority also plans to revive a summary it had already tabled before the cabinet of last Punjab government led by Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, Dawn has learnt.
“In fact, the authority had first taken up this matter with the Buzdar-led PTI government, explaining that the orange line train fares immediately need to be rationalised by abolishing the flat fare system. The authority had also proposed introduction of a distance-based fare from Rs20 to 40 (Rs20 stop to stop and increase gradually with distance) on over 27km-long route of the orange line starting from Dera Gujjaran to Ali Town via GT Road, Lakshami, GPO, Anarkali, Chauburji, Multan Road and Raiwind Road,” a senior official told Dawn on Sunday.
The official said the Buzdar government had agreed to increase it to take out the PMA from increasing financial burden. But it couldn’t do so after a change in the government. After formation of the new government led by Hamza Shehbaz, the authority took up this issue with it. And finally this government asked the PMA to table a summary to the provincial cabinet through the transport department.
“We prepared a summary seeking introduction of a stop-to-stop fare of Rs20 and sent it to the transport department for onward submission to the cabinet. The department after going through it tabled it before the then cabinet,” the official maintained, adding that the cabinet couldn’t take any decision.
He said the PMA had now decided to brief the new transport minister on its roles and responsibilities besides requesting him to get this summary approved by the new cabinet.
The PMA, according to the provincial government, is a statutory body established with the purpose of planning, construction, operation and maintenance of mass transit systems in the major cities of the province for providing safe, efficient and comfortable urban transportation system.
Since the authority is supposed to focus on planning, contracting of services and oversight of contracts/operations, it, under the existing operational model, has outsourced all of its operation and maintenance services to tap the private sector efficiency.
“Increase or rationalising or introduction of a distance-based fare has been initially proposed for the orange line alone under phase-1. The same fare model may also be applied to the Lahore, Rawalpindi-Islamabad and Multan Metro Bus systems and the Speedo bus service in Lahore and Multan under phase-2,” the official hinted.
The transport operators in May raised fares by 20 per cent on all intercity and intracity routes across the province after first increase in the POL prices was made by Shehbaz-led government. Pakistan Railways (PR), later, also increased fares on all passenger and freight trains by 10 to 20 per cent with effect from June 1. The PMA also worked out a proposal seeking rationalisation of fare of the orange line keeping in view the increasing electricity cost but it is yet to be approved by the government.
Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2022