While Rawalpindi’s bus terminals serve a vital need for a majority of the city’s vehicle deprived residents, they continue to be plagued by a plethora of issues, including potholed roads, overflowing drains, dilapidated rest sheds and unhygienic toilets.
The terminals run a network of frequent yet mostly uneconomical bus services that travel to every nook and corner of the country, but their lack of adequate infrastructure is a constant source of frustration for travellers.
The new terminal for Daewoo Express, one of the more popular services, was designed to accommodate more buses and facilitate passengers, but even it appears to be causing inconveniences.
Passengers were experiencing difficulties reaching the old location near Kohinoor Mill due to traffic jams caused by construction work at Pirwadhai Mor. However, the current venue, adjacent to EME Military College on GT Road, is not fully-developed and lacks proper facilities.
“Switching to a new venue in haste and making passengers the target of an experimental operation was not a smart idea. The lack of facilities will be a constant irritant until the place is upgraded,” said Sibte Ali, a trader who was travelling to Lahore.
“I considered filing a complaint about the rising dust when buses enter and exit the present katcha terminal, but nobody knew who was in charge of the passengers’ welfare there,” lamented Saadat Ahmad, another passenger.
Asked why Daewoo’s administration was indifferent to passengers’ problems, Amjad Kareem, a booking office employee said, “At one time, only Daewoo Express that offered state-of-the-art facilities to travellers. Now there are a host of others providing competitive services. We need to be careful if we want to guard our reputation.”
“The number of terminal staff has gone down to the bare minimum. Only a handful of employees are responsible for sanitation, due to which cleanliness became a major victim here,” said a terminal worker requesting anonymity.
“On rainy days, the parking spaces and underground passenger waiting rooms are fully occupied, while the stench from nearby toilets is unbearable,” said a man travelling with his family.
A Daewoo administration official said the EME Military College had obtained a stay order against further development of the terminal on the pretext that it was creating security issues for them. For this reason, the required facilities were missing, he added.
Meanwhile, frequenters of the Faizabad and Pirwadhai bus terminals have been unhappy about the buses’ irregular schedules.
They lamented the long waits and ankle-deep water that floods the terminals’ bus stands after even the shortest spell of rain.
At Faizabad Bus Terminal, located on the main avenue near Faizabad Interchange, there are eighteen different bus stops, clearly labelled with the routes and destinations. However, there is no covered waiting area and only a few nearby restaurants and stalls offer some respite.
On GT Road lies the Soan Bus Terminal, a private terminal where Toyota Hiace wagons and air-conditioned Mercedes wagons abound.
There are also four large shopping and residential complexes and a proper waiting room with plenty of sitting arrangements. Fans, free lodging for drivers, washing and drinking facilities and an auto workshop are available. Buses travel to all destinations, but schedules are not well organised and passengers experience inordinate delays.
Some 800-900 buses pass through Pirwadhai Bus Terminal every day. Spread over 200 kanals, the terminal has a 24-hour anti-encroachment squad and a sanitary team that works three shifts.
A row of shops on the right hand side of the terminal is replete with clothes, cellphones, books, magazines, cosmetics and handbags.
Across the street from the terminal lie private bus stations which operate on both sides of Pirwadhai Road, from Mandi Mor up to the terminal. However, buses parked on the main road are a nuisance for commuters.
It is up to the authorities of Rawalpindi’s multiple bus services to ensure a hassle-free travel experience for the city’s commuters. If they don’t, they run the risk of losing out to competitors.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2013.
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Mr. Naushad, Please don't bring huge (state-of-the-art) bus terminal accommodating all bus services to the city. Keep it at a reasonable distance from the city. I'm already sick of the existing ones..
Pirwadhai and Faizabad bus terminals are too chaotic and stressful, and I being a general goods supplier have so far used them to get cheap travel. The service is hit-or-miss, the drivers are clearly just guys doing a job they barely tolerate, and the conditions can vary wildly, but for the price it's hard to beat. Unfortunately, for the price it's also too much of a crap shoot for me. Next time I'll pay a little more to get on a better bus service like Daewoo Express and Faisal Movers..
I agree with Abbasi. A huge bus complex accommodating all bus services could eliminate noise pollution from the city.
Though it is always easy to give a minus rating, but Pirwadhai bus terminal is fully deserving of it. Buses are always late, always overbooked, and seemingly under-serviced. No one gives you an update on the status of late buses.
You don't need so many terminals, one is enough to send your city into gridlock.
I'm aware of Daewoo's reputation. However, as a responsible traveler, I don't rate based on hearsay. I rate based on my past experience that they will come up to our expectations once given clearance.
Pirwadhai bus terminal is just a nightmare to deal with, jam-packed throughout the day, bothersome crowd at every turn. You see all types here and they all find some way to interact with you.
Faizabad bus terminal is close and convenient, but in need of a big overhaul.
All the terminals serve numerous bus lines both inter-city and local. As a traveler I always choose the right one according to destination. Of course, the terminals can’t be close to all areas. Depending on my travel destination I select the corresponding terminal.
The only solution to all the problems traveler is faced with is to build a bus terminal in the outskirts in the far corner of the city as the Daewoo is trying to do -- if they are allowed to do.The people will not complain about traveling to and from it to get to their house or wherever they are going if they are given state-of-the-art terminal. It will work perfectly because it will really add to the atmosphere of the city not having to see all those big buses everywhere.
There is only one plus side to Faizabad bus terminal. Unless I absolutely have to, I avoid it at all costs.
Being a salesman I frequently visit Pir Wadhai bus terminal, and there laze homeless people on the commuter spaces, and oh, the smells! Forget it in the summer time. It would be more pleasant to wait with the idling buses under the scorching sun with diesel fumes and carbon monoxide included.
Old Daewoo bus terminal though small but was very centrally located. The new one is too far away.
Present Rawalpindi bus terminals seem to be the mother of all troubles. My family and me have gone through all these sufferings. I am eye-witness to all the problems mentioned in your story. Even new Daewoo terminal is no good, not to talk of others. You have hit the iron while it is hot.