Traffic woes: Choked roads in desperate need of public transport in the provincial capital

City requires 1,600 buses to meet the needs of passengers


Amir Naveed Chaudhry September 03, 2019
PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Millions of people lack adequate access to public transportation in the provincial capital, and if left unattended, the consequences could be disastrous. Lahore, for now, has more commuters and fewer wheels to shuttle them across the bustling city.

According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the city needs 1,600 buses for its daily commuters. However, currently, Lahore only has 135 buses and 520 mini-vans to shuttle its ever-growing population of passengers, who rely on public transport for their daily commute.

Experts believe, to succeed, Lahore’s troubled public transport system would have to help passengers get around the city easily through regularly moving buses, and not relying on hailing a ride on a phone.

Various protests hamper traffic in Lahore

The absence of adequate public transport facilities has forced commuters to purchase cars, motorcycles, and those who can’t afford one, end up relying on ride-hailing services in the city, which has increased the number of wheels on the already congested roads.

Who is responsible?

Irked by the traffic congestions in the city, transporters believe the only solution to Lahore’s traffic woes was to add more buses to the public transport system.

“Transportation authority needs to increase the number of buses and vans, otherwise, an increase in the number of private cars and motorcycles will contribute to traffic congestions in the city,” said a transporter, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Authorities need to focus on increasing the number of public buses and vans in the city. They need to build new roads to ensure passengers have access to all destinations,” he added.

Transporters accused the Lahore Transport Company (LTC) of failing to address the issues that plague the city’s transport system.

“Despite bagging hefty salaries, the LTC officials haven’t been able to improve the system,” they said.

Of the 350 buses, only 135 serve the commuters in the provincial capital.  A total of 127 public buses remain non-operational.

“Provincial government should close the LTC. It has only caused financial losses to the exchequer,” said one transporter.

According to LTC sources, a letter was written five years ago, requesting for 312 new buses, but the transport department ignored the demand. Commenting on the issue, LTC spokesperson said the transit body was trying its best to open the routes that were closed earlier.

The plan

To address the situation, the transportation authority in the province claims it plans to run a fleet of 1,000 additional buses over the next two years.

Bumper to bumper: One car too many on Lahore’s roads

“The provincial government has decided to add new vans to the fleet of public buses in the city over the next two years,” said Punjab Transport Secretary Asad Rehman Gilani.

According to Gilani, the rapidly expanding city needs new public transportation routes and networks to cater to all its citizens. To meet the city’s needs, the secretary said the transportation authority plans to work closely with organisations like the World Bank and other international development agencies.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2019.

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