The 27 bus stations of the Metro Bus Service were being prepared on Friday for the project’s inauguration on February 10 (tomorrow).
Work continues round the clock on the elevated bus way. The escalators, recently installed on several stations, need another week worth of work. Similarly, work on sliding doors will be completed after the inauguration.
The project is currently missing a bridge over River Ravi as a result of which the buses will use the existing Ravi Bridge.
The Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) Chief Engineer Muhammad Saeed Akhtar told The Express Tribune the left over “petty work” would be completed “soon” after the inauguration.
It was on February 5 last year that ground was broken for the project. Work on the 27-kilometre long project – from Gajju Matta to Shahdara – started on March 12. At that time, NESPAK, the consultant on the project, had said it would take three years to complete.
According to the Punjab government, the project cost Rs30 billion. The figure, however, is disputed by the opposition.
Lahore Transport Company Chairman Khawaja Ahmad Hasan expects 20,000-40,000 people to use the service which he says has the capacity to cater to 112,000 people every day.
The project includes an 8.3 km elevated track, starting from Muslim Town Bridge and ending near Data Darbar. The elevated track was not a part of the initial design. The decision to build it had to be made after problems with acquisition of land needed for it.
The first plan, received from Turkish experts was for a seven-kilometre stretch, starting somewhere near Atari Saroba on Ferozpure Road and ending at Kalma Chowk. Later NESPAK expanded it.
Another change to the original plans was when the government decided to import 45 articulated buses for it. The initial plan had been to import only six such buses.
Though the engineers, working on the project, had always predicted that work could not be completed before February 2013, the Punjab government gave a number of deadlines, which were missed. The first deadline set by the chief minister was October 31, 2012, which was changed to November 20. The third deadline given to construction companied was December 20, 2012. The next deadline to lapse was January 27.
The service will be offered free-of-charge initially. According to an estimate, it will cost the provincial government more than Rs1 billion per year. The transport secretary said that the expenses were justified if one takes into consideration the facilities being provided.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2013.