KARACHI: If you travelled on Sharae Faisal towards Tower on Wednesday you may have come across air-conditioned public buses plying on the road.
After uncountable missed deadlines and numerous failed promises, the Sindh government finally launched 10 air-conditioned buses under the ‘Peoples Bus Service’ as a pilot project of the intercity buses with zero investment of its own.
The buses are owned and operated by Daewoo Bus Service. The company has also obtained route permits to run these buses from Dawood Chowrangi to Tower via Sharae Faisal.
The operation of the buses according to Daweoo’s operation manager Muhammad Ishaq, starts at 6am and continues till 10pm. The ironic part of the project launch is that the Sindh government is patting itself on the back for launching 10 public buses in a transport-starved city of 21 million people after over a decade.
Transport Minister Nasir Hussain Shah, at the launching ceremony on Tuesday, said that the Sindh government has taken the initiative to provide better quality buses to the people of Karachi. He assured that the number of the buses would be increased to 50.
In March 2017, after the Punjab government launched feeder route buses in Lahore, the Sindh government dutifully announced that it would launch 600 new public buses in Karachi the same year.
In January 2018, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah approved Rs195 million for the intra-city bus project, under which 32 buses were supposed to be plied on Sharae Faisal in the first phase and on five different routes in the second phase.
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This was all part of the Sindh government’s five-year loan programme through the Sindh Modarabad Management Limited for transporters which never saw the light of the day. The launch of the 10 buses by Daewoo is a separate project.
A driver wearing a new blue uniform and a big smile drives the Yu Tong Chinese bus, which is clean and cosy from inside. The windows of the bus are covered by blue curtains.
The bus has a seating capacity of 30 passengers, of which 10 seats are for women. “Almost 15 passengers can also stand inside the bus,” the driver, Bakht Ali, told The Express Tribune. There is also a fire extinguisher placed at the back of the driver’s seat. “You won’t find such fire extinguishers in Pakistani buses,” he boasted.
The buses are cleaned every time they complete one complete round. For each round, according to Ishaq, a single bus takes around three hours at a speed of 45 kilometres per hour. The fare of the service ranges between Rs20 and Rs40.
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