Lahori Bus Bhai Bus

3,000 more buses needed in City

Commuters being packed in buses like sardines

 Transporters not willing to induct new buses

 DRTA secy says 300 reconditioned vans to meet shortage

Jamaluddin Jamali

LAHORE: Acting on the principle of something is better than nothing, the District Regional Transport Authority, Lahore, has given green signal to some transporters’ groups to arrange re-conditioned old Mazda vans for various routes in view of the acute shortage of public transport buses because big groups of transporters are no willing to launch new buses, The post has learnt.
Curtailing the smoke and noise emitting vehicles and tackling the overloading of commuters in public transport vehicles is not possible in near future for the Punjab Transport Department in the absence of alternate urban bus service by the government, officials sources confided to The Post on Tuesday.

All noisy and smoke-emitting public transport vehicles playing the city cannot be banned within 24 hours as it is easy to pass orders but that will not be implemented easily, officials said. “But that will be followed by a horrible strike call by transporters,” they added. The officials said 3,000 urban buses should be launched on the roads to ease the public and commuters with a comprehensive plan to link all the city roads with the bus service and no gap of routes should be left. This bus service should link all key roads to the city up to New Kahna on Ferozpur Road, Jallo Park, Barki Hadyara, Kot Abdul Malik, Shekupura Road, Wagah Border, Muridke, Multan Road, all housing societies, DHA, Cantt areas, Township, Johar Town and Wapda Town and a sufficient number of buses should be launched on each route so that people may travel sitting on seats in the buses. The officials added that problem is that no one wants to induct buses while transporters are demanding high subsidies on diesel and fares with cut in taxes and share in the purchase of buses.

The officials said that as per the present policy of the provincial transport authority no one is allowed to launch two or three buses in the city and this is what is hindering the competition on the roads and the big transporters are enjoying monopoly. Now situation is horrible because no one is willing to launch buses and the government is not in position to launch its own urban bus service.

The officials said Max Matco Bus Service belonged to former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and his relatives are running the bus service; Premier Bus Service is owned by former foreign minister Khurshid Ahmad Kasuri while New Khan Bus Service is owned by a Rokari family of Mianwali.

With shortage of buses and overloading, the key routes have been occupied by Premier Bus Service, New Khan Metro Bus Service, Niazi Bus Service, ABC Metro Bus Service, Monolite Metropolitan Bus Service, Sial Bus Service, Baloch Express and some other companies. About 40 buses running on the city routes are of Max Company, 50 of Niazi, 44 buses of ABC Metro, 22 of Baloch Bus Service, 254 of New Khan and 260 buses of Premier Bus Service. There are 53 routes of buses and 40 routes of vans in the city. In 1998, the then Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif introduced franchise bus system in the province but that system proved a failure because of the overloading and shortage of buses as the owners of such buses wanted to make big profits with less buses and took routes of their own liking denying healthy competition with other us service providers.

Later, this plan of franchise bus service was declared illegal by the Supreme Court because it was violation of human rights that a route is allotted to a bus company which plies a few buses barring other competitors.

The officials said it is known to everybody that there is overloading in buses and vans and most of the public transport vehicles are emitting smoke and creating noise pollution but this is the only transport that is available to the masses and if it is pressurized, it will refuse to function and the masses will be standing on the roads waiting for the same faulty buses and vans.

They said transporters are very strong and the government cannot take drastic steps against the owners of the exiting buses and vans because the government cannot launch its own buses. On the other hand, the private companies are not ready to launch more buses and their demands for subsidies from the government are on the rise.

The officials said about 3,000 more urban buses are needed to solve the problem of overloading in the public transport vehicles currently plying the city.

When contacted, District Regional Transport Authority (DRTA) Secretary Malik Munir Joiya told The Post that it was not easy to ban all smoke-emitting vehicles and tackle overloading due to shortage of buses.

He added transporters are not willing to launch more buses because they know government cannot run its own buses and will be forced to meet their demands in one way or the other or at least they will be not disturbed by the transport authority. He said he has encouraged a few transporters to launch 300 reconditioned vans which will first ply Ferozepur Road to Kasur. He said transporters are not ready to induct new buses and the position of the provincial transport department is very critical these days. The department has to ignore many mistakes/drawbacks of transporters to keep the ball rolling.

Courtesy: The Post 27/8/2008

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