9 June 2015 note: A startling sight in Pakistan: Fast, affordable, air-conditioned buses, says the headline in today’s The Washington Post. Story by Tim Craig.
For hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis, the miserable, sweaty, cramped commute is coming to an end. Pakistan, one of the world’s fastest-growing countries, has long lacked an efficient public transportation system. Instead, Pakistan’s 180 million residents have jammed onto unreliable buses and vans prone to breakdowns and grisly traffic accidents.
4 June: PM Nawaz Sharif inaugurates the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro (new name: Pakistan Metro) bus service. The venue is Islamabad’s Convention Centre.
With this, Pakistan Metro, made to international standards, comes into life and starts a new era of civilised and economical travel for the residents of twin cities, and of course, occasional visitors like me.
See also: Lucky generation to witness transition from chaos to civility – our Facebook album of Metro bus photos as it happened.
More on Pakistan’s travel infrastructure
The credit of conceiving and building this BRT (bus rapid transit) service goes to Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif, a man known for untiring service to people in his province at what is now called Punjab Speed.
This is the second Metro BRT project after the first one in Lahore Metro BRT opened in February 2013 before the 11 May general elections. Multan Metro BRT is the next.
The ground-breaking ceremony of Pakistan Metro was held on 23 March 2014 by PM Sharif. The project was to complete five months ago, but according to CM Shehbaz Sharif, a third-umpire-inspired PTI dharna delayed it.
Pakistan: The brighter side
Besides travel convenience, the Metro stations have given the twin cities a fresh, contemporary look. Drone and panoramic photos of Metro track are a lovely sight to watch.
Have you seen CPEC stories on this blog?
Here are some details of the Pakistan Metro project you might be interested in:
Length of Metro route: 23km (8.6km elevated, 10km at grade and 4km trench)
Includes: 2 flyovers, 14 pedestrian underpasses, 13 vehicular underpasses to make it signal-free corridor
Route: From Saddar Pindi to Pak Secretariat Islamabad
Stations (bus terminals): 24: Rawalpindi 10 | Islamabad 14
Shuttle service: Initially, feeder buses will run from 14 places to bring passengers to Metro stations. Shuttle service will be extended.
Buses acquired: 68 | Air-conditioned. | Metro depot on: 18 acres
Internet: Free wifi provided by PTCL on all Metro buses and Metro stations
Bus fare: Rs 20 (US: 20¢; UK 13p)
One-way journey time: 20 minutes
Expected daily commuters: 135,000 | About 50 million passengers a year
Final cost: Rs 44.7 billion | Took 14 months to complete
PS: If anyone in PPP’s Sindh government reads this post, can they pass on this request to former President Asif Ali Zardari or his party’s Sindh Chief Minister to start making preparation for a Metro bus and train service in Karachi?
By 2030, Karachi is going to be world’s 7th largest megacity of 25 million people. People in Karachi need decent public transport that connects everyone everywhere.
5 June Karachi BRT update: The federal government budgeted Rs 16 billion for Karachi’s Green Line BRT project to be completed by December 2017.
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