KARACHI: Because of the Punjab government’s keenness, Lahore will most likely be Pakistan’s first city to have a bus rapid transit system. The construction of the Lahore Mass Transit System, or Lahore Metro, is already under way. On the other hand, the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) of Karachi, which is around 1,800 square kilometres larger, is still on the drawing board.
Though Karachi is the country’s largest city, its administration’s focus on the urban public transport sector is negligible. No substantial work on BRTS and Karachi Circular Railway has begun even though around Rs1.35 billion have been allotted to them in the budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. There are reports that a powerful lobby comprising owners of private transport is thwarting attempts to build a rail-based commuting system or rapid bus transit mechanism in the city. Such developments would end their monopoly in the lucrative public transport sector.
Comparing the two bus systems
Lahore Metro system will consist of four operational lines - green, orange, purple and blue. The Green Line, which costs around $2.4 billion, will run from Shahdra to Hamza Town and is expected to carry about 64,000 passengers a day. The total length of the line would be around 27 kilometres, with 11.6 kilometres underground and the rest overhead. A total of 12 underground stations and 10 overhead stations will be built. The construction has already begun.
The Orange Line is expected to cost $1.9 billion and will run from Ali Town to Dera Gujran. Its total length is expected to be 27 kilometres, with 7 kilometres of it underground. It will have six underground stations and 20 overhead stations.
The Purple Line is expected to be a total of 19 kilometres and will extend from Bhaati Chowk to Allama Iqbal International Airport, while the Blue Line is expected to be a total of 24 km and will run from Chauburji to College Road.
In Karachi, the administration is planning to start a Yellow Line of the proposed BRTS as a pilot project. It will cover a 22-kilometre route from Dawood Chowrangi to Numaish Chowrangi and Lucky Star via 8000 Road, Korangi. However, the project is still in the initial phase and it might take a long time before construction begins.
There are reports that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has prepared a mass transit network for Karachi with and is expecting to complete the project by 2030. It has suggested two metro system lines and 6 rapid bus transit lines. It has also proposed the revitalisation of KCR. It has also prepared feasibility study of two BRTS lines. The Green Line will run from Surjani to Jama Cloth market and the Red Line will run from Model Colony to Regal Chowk via Safoora Goth.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2012.