Not going as planned: Backlash brings buses back on roads

Transport authorities restore buses removed after inauguration of Metro feeder buses.

Imran Adnan April 26, 2017
Transport authorities restore buses removed after inauguration of Metro feeder buses. PHOTO: RIAZ AHMED/EXPRESS

LAHORE: Transport authorities have restored old public buses with slight changes in previous routes in the wake of opposition from commuters over fares of the recently started Metro Bus feeder buses.

The Lahore Transport Company (LTC) had diverted all CNG buses last month on the directions of the provincial government to make the feeder bus project successful. But the idea of removing all private buses from the existing routes backfired, resulting in a serious backlash from commuters, a company representative told The Express Tribune.

The LTC received hundreds of complaints from passengers about inconveniences caused by the withdrawal of public buses from the existing routes since the inauguration of the new, air-conditioned service to feed the Lahore Metro Bus.

After serious hue and cry from the commuters, the company has restored the old buses with slight changes in routes to avoid overlapping with the recently started feeder bus service.

LTC spokesperson Nasir Hussain said the company had diverted its public buses from the feeder routes because it was the law that no public transport, bus or minibus, could ply parallel to the Lahore Metro Bus service.

These new feeder buses are an extension of the Lahore Metro Bus network, which would be extended further to other parts of the city after inauguration of the under-construction Lahore Metro Train’s Orange Line track.

Nasir said the government called for removing all public buses from feeder routes, as overlapping of public buses was merely resource wastage. “But it backfired as the company received dozens of complaints about short routes of feeder buses that increased passenger hardships,” he added.

After thoroughly studying the complaints, he said, the company has once again realigned bus routes. “There will some overlapping but the LTC has tried to avoid parallel routes,” he added.

A commuter Muhammad Kamran said though the new service was efficient, his travel time had increased drastically instead of reducing.

He pointed out that most of these feeder buses were plying on short routes and connecting various areas of the city to the Lahore Metro Bus network. “The idea of feeder buses is great from the operators’ perspective but it has badly hurt us,” he complained.

Another passenger, Naila Bibi who uses public buses to visit her relatives in northern Lahore occasionally, said the government had shutdown the old routes to make the new service successful without considering the consequences.

“The planners believe all commuters are tech-savvy and also have surplus money to buy the plastic smart cards. The ticketing system of these new buses is complex and expensive for occasional commuters like me,” she said. “It has proved to be a nightmare for daily and occasional commuters alike as the government has left no option to move around in the city or reach directly from one point to another.”

The LTC has also set up an information and complaint helpline to facilitate passengers. Commuters can get information about new routes or register their complaints by dialling in at 111-582-111.

Over 300 air-conditioned CNG buses are plying on around 18 routes in Lahore in collaboration with private bus operators.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2017.


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