The Lahore Transport Company (LTC) has decided to start a drive to shut down workshops where motorcycle rickshaws are manufactured because it believes this will make the urban transport sector more attractive to investors.
LTC officials say that companies are reluctant to invest in new buses for Lahore’s decrepit public transport system because of competition for customers from cheap motorcycle rickshaws. Badami Bagh is home to several unlicensed workshops where motorcycles are fitted with steel bodies to form rickshaws.
At a meeting of the LTC board of directors on Thursday, Chairman Khawaja Hassaan said the company had decided to allow only three-seat auto rickshaws on urban routes; altered rickshaws with more than three seats would not be allowed. He said that no decision had been made on what to do about motorcycle rickshaws already plying on the roads and implied that there was political pressure to let them be, but the manufacturing workshops would be closed. “We will try to eliminate them from the roads by bringing in a good quality and quantity of buses,” he said.
Hassaan said that the LTC’s transport inspectors would be joined by officials of the Transport Department, Excise and Taxation Department and the police for the campaign against rickshaw workshops. He said that 90 new inspectors would join the force from October 1. They would also work on improving the traffic discipline of public transport vehicles, he said.
Hassaan said that 211 high quality buses would be added to Lahore’s public transport system by the end of October, bringing the total number of buses plying urban routes to 461.
He recently led a seven-member delegation to China to inspect buses to be imported by two local firms, the Foton Bus Company and the First Bus Service.
Foton would start running 111 new buses by the end of next month, including 56 by the end of this month. The First Bus Service is also importing 100 buses, which are to arrive at the end of October.
Hassaan said that CNG was a cardinal feature of the LTC’s urban transport policy because it was an environment friendly fuel. He said the government would ensure that public transport gets an uninterrupted supply of CNG, even on the two days a week it is not available to general customers. He said that the buses would be able to run on petrol too.
Hassaan also welcomed the recent appointment of Yawar Irfan to the board.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2011.