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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