Metro Bus System in Lahore is unarguably Pakistan’s 1st rapid mass transit project. Before it was inaugurated, many were claiming that this is a revolutionary step by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The number of Metro buses initially incorporated into this project is 45 buses. Each bus having 18 meter length is 6 meter longer than normal buses. A two way road track is constructed having a length of 30KM and a width of 10m. This track is named Metro bus corridor. The number of passengers that can be accommodated in one bus is estimated to be 120-140. There will be separate seats for male, female and disabled passengers. According to another estimate it was revealed that around 60,000 people will travel by these buses every single day. These buses will have an extended timing of 16 hours per day from 6:30AM till 10:30PM. 29 bus stops are scheduled to be constructed on Metro bus corridor. E-ticket is also introduced into these buses. This project will consume 30 Billion Rupees.
Metro Bus System: A Failure or Success?
While reading about the entire features mentioned above, it really seems a brilliant project but it was all before the project actually started to function. Rather than a blessing, it seems more of a disaster.
- On the very next day when the project was inaugurated, many passengers faced problems on Ferozpur to Khana Kacha and Gajumata route as no local bus was available. Passengers had to wait for an hour before an overloaded Metro Bus arrived. Remember it was said that a Metro Bus will come after every 3 minutes. If passengers have to take taxi, rikshaw or wait for alternative bus, what is the point in developing a Metro Bus System?
- An overloaded Metro Bus is reported to have collided with the road divider. The project seems to have estimated wrong number of travellers that will travel on these buses. Overloading of these buses will cause them to get old soon and they will be of no use. This simply indicates that this project will fail if solution to this problem is not provided.
- Male and female passengers have to stand with each other. Everyone tries to occupy space for him/herself. It was mentioned in the features that male and female as well as the disabled will have reserved seats. But due to overloading this is not happening. It might be okay in many countries of the world but in a Muslim country, male and female standing together while travelling is not appreciated and this problem needs to be sorted out.
- Maintenance cost and running cost of the project is really high and it has caused serious concerns amongst all the circles. The total budget of Punjab is 63 Billion while 30 Billion is spent on just a road and buses in Lahore. Almost 50% of the whole Punjab budget is spent on one road only. Many minds are thinking how this act is justified? Already people of other cities are feeling neglected.
Although there are many weaknesses in the project but it is just the start. For the time being this project seems to be a failure. If the Punjab Government is serious and dedicated about this project, they will try their best to overcome these weaknesses and work for the betterment of this project and try to deliver what this project promised before it was started. A failure of the project might cost Shahbaz Sharif his whole political career.