CDA plans electric bus service in Islamabad

Proposed project will have an annual deficit of Rs273.32m

Iftikhar Choudhry June 06, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The premier civic agency of the federal capital has decided to operate electric buses in an extended, dedicated corridor for the metro bus service connecting the city to the Islamabad International Airport (IIA).

In this regard, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has prepared an operationalisation model for the Metro Bus Service (MBS) from Peshawar Morr to IIA.

CDA officials said that a meeting in this regard was held in the office of the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan recently where modalities of the model were discussed.

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The model includes fleet acquisition, information technology services, security surveillance and AFC system acquisition. It also includes the construction of allied infrastructure such as a command and control centre.

The official added that the operations and maintenance of the service will be outsourced through four different service contracts and perhaps to four separate contractors.

The project itself, the official said, will see 30 new, air-conditioned buses plying on a fixed schedule between the airport and Peshawar Morr.

On cost estimations, including capital expenditure and operational expenditure for the model, the authority estimates that there will be an annual deficit of Rs273.32 million. In this connection, support and cooperation from the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) have been sought.

However, a final decision regarding the operationalization of the Metro Bus System will be taken by the government.

Later, while speaking to The Express Tribune, CDA Chairman and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Chief Commissioner Amir Ali Ahmed said that they intend to use modern, electric buses to keep operational costs down apart from mitigating the environmental impact of the project.

“This bus service will be completely environmentally friendly as it will operate on electricity,” he said.

Ahmed added that in the first phase of the project, these buses will run between Peshawar Morr and the airport.

If successful, he said that the project’s scope will be extended to other routes in the city.

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Asked on what the timeline of the project is, he said that work on it is expected to start by December this year.

To a further question, he said that they have proposed to build a separate track for these buses to ply in and that it will be completed expeditiously once approved from the federal government.

Work on the Rs16.43 billion metro bus extension project had begun in April 2017 and was slated to be completed in a matter of months by August 2017, in time for the inauguration of the new airport. Like the inauguration date of the airport, the completion date of the project was also pushed back. While the airport started operating in May 2018, the extension project ran into snags.

In January 2020, while submitting a reply in the National Assembly, the federal communications ministry had stated that 90% of work on the nearly three-year-old project has been completed. Further, the ministry had promised that it will be completed in the ongoing fiscal year 2019-20. The ministry had assured the house that the project will not run into cost overruns due to the inordinate delay it has faced, rather it will be completed at a cost of Rs14.44 billion and some savings.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2020.

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