RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD: With the new Islamabad International Airport expected to be formally inaugurated by the prime minister later this week, transport authorities in Rawalpindi have decided to start a shuttle service for passengers.
The service is expected to start work by the end of April on a trial basis which will ferry passengers to the new airport from two different locations in Rawalpindi, Rawat and Koral Chowk.
One route would start from Rawat, pass through Kutcheri Chowk, Saddar, Peshawar Road, Chor Chowk, Pirwadhai Mor, Golra Mor, Chungi 26, and Motorway Chowk before heading to the new airport.
The other route would commence from Koral Chowk and head to the Benazir Bhutto International Airport, then to Ammar Chowk, Kutcheri Chowk, Saddar and Peshawar Road and would conclude at the new airport.
The Rawalpindi Regional Transport Authority (RTA) Secretary Khalid Yameen Satti said that they will initially engage a private transport company, Faisal Movers, to operate the service.
He claimed that the company had been selected after clearing a proper bidding process for the service.
Explaining the details of the service, Satti said that the transport company will operate buses on the two routes. Moreover, he said that the company will be responsible for making arrangements to provide a quality, safe and comfortable transport.
Noting that the company has been directed to launch the bus service immediately, Satti said that a fare of Rs30 had been proposed, while frequent passengers can purchase a monthly pass for Rs2,500. He, however, conceded that they have yet to finalise the fare for the service.
The RTA secretary said that they will set up proper buss stations and stands at five-kilometre intervals along the route of the bus to facilitate commuters.
Four bus routes
In addition to the bus service to the new airport, the regional transport authorities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have approved four new public bus routes.
According to an RTA official, one route leads from Rawat to the Secretariat, then Secretariat to the Blue Area, from Blue Area to Kashmir Highway and from Kashmir Highway to Motorway Chowk.
Initially, 50 air-conditioned mini-buses or coasters would run on these routes. The buses are expected to charge a fare of Rs6 per kilometre. The total fare, from one end to the other, would not exceed Rs260.
He added that the transport service would operate around-the-clock without being suspended on any day of the week.
A pilot for the project is expected to begin next week.
Apart from the bus service, work on constructing bus stands at Rawat, Koral Chowk and the new airport would start soon.
In reference to the bus routes in Islamabad, Assistant Commissioner Saad Bin Asad said that two of these transport routes of the capital would link the city to the new airport.
While plying the route from Secretariat to the new airport, the service would link up with metro bus stations at five separate spots to facilitate people.
He added that the capital administration has also proposed other transport routes for Sectors D-17, D-12 and E-11.
Satti stated that the Rawalpindi RTA had issued tickets to 2,149 public service vehicles and impounded 434 for overcharging passengers and overloading during February and March.
He said that RTA teams frequently conduct raids during which they issue fines to those overcharging and overloading. He said that fines amounting to over Rs1.9 million were imposed on violators.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2018.