LAHORE: The crisis of public transport is worsening in the provincial capital with each passing day as the Lahore Transport Company (LTC) is operating only 30 buses for a population of over 11 million.
The situation has become more complex with the shortage of public transport on the roads and the citizens are compelled to travel on private companies’ vehicles that charge exorbitant fares.
The number of private vehicles services including cabs has surged in the absence of public transport and the situation has ultimately led to persistent gridlocks on the city roads, increasing the travelling time and cost.
Keeping in view the sprawling population of the megacity a survey of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) revealed that there was a need of more than 1,600 buses for Lahore. Sources revealed that people in Lahore take around one million rides daily to reach their workplaces, educational institutes and other places. Out of these one million trips, 70% of people use private transport.
The LTC has closed 17 routes out of 19 in the city. Currently, LTC coasters are being operated on Jinnah Terminal-Jallo Morr and Valencia Town-Railway Station routes. No alternative transport service has been provided by the LTC on the remaining 17 routes of the city.
As many as 160 air-conditioned coasters and buses are plying on city streets by the transport network companies on the pattern of international online taxi service.
Transport Secretary Asad Rehman Gilani told The Express Tribune that the department was working on different proposals for the improvement of the transport system and said a requisition for 1,500 buses for all the divisional headquarters of the province including 350 buses for Lahore has been sent to the government. “Three different plans have been given to the government, one of which is a model capital subsidy, second with operational subsidy and the third is with a mixed model. The department will start working once the plan is approved by the government.
The secretary said the bus manufacturers and operators have come up with different proposals, however, the department would accept a viable proposal as per the law. He said it would take at least five to six months to operationalise the new buses after the approval of the government.
Lahore Transport Company Chief Operating Officer Zafar Qureshi, while talking to The Express Tribune, said the service was suspended on 17 routes of the LTC and there were only 25 to 30 vehicles operating on two routes under make-shift arrangements.
He said the buses from the previous operators had completed their useful life of eight years. The overhaul cost of the buses increased because the buses were outdated that was why the operators discontinued their service.
“Since 2015, several requests were made to the government for the provision of buses but to no avail,” he remarked. He said the LTC would operationalise the defunct routes after the arrival of new buses.
On the other hand, the transporters said if the public transport service was not completely restored in the provincial capital, it would be hard for them to meet the transportation needs of the megacity. They suggested that the only solution to the traffic woes was to increase the number of buses in the public transport service.
Meanwhile, citizens complained that the Lahore Transport Company has failed to provide a public transportation facility in the city and became a burden on the national exchequer.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2020.
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