The availability of public transportation is the basic right of every inhabitant. Decrepit buses, taxis and rickshaws are common sight not only in Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan, but also in almost every large city, let alone the small cities and towns. Unfortunately, people living in cities as well as villages in Pakistan are deprived of clean, safe, fast, efficient and cost-effective public transportation system. World is moving very fast and technology is pervasive in every walk of life, let alone transportation. Decrepit public transportation in Pakistan with some exception is the outcome of the years of neglect. Traveling is not fun by and large rather it is a nightmare to millions. Pakistan with a burgeoning population of over 210 million needs world class public transportation system to keep pace with the rest of the world.
The most-acclaimed public transportation systems in the world are in Berlin, Shanghai, London, Madrid, Paris, Seoul, New York, Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong. The world has focused on transportation facilities which result in economic development. Berlin’s extensive public transit system is renowned for its reliability and coverage. Shanghai has got an impressive rapid-transport system. The ‘tube’ in London is one of the world’s most acclaimed transit systems. Public transportation in Madrid is one of the most-coveted in the entire world particularly its metro system has got accolades globally. Most of Paris metro system, Europe’s second busiest subway after the Moscow Metro, is underground consisting of staggering 303 stations. Seoul’s well-developed transport system serves over 8 million commuters every day. The iconic New York City Subway is the largest subway system globally by number of stations and is second to none in terms of quality of service. Public transport in Singapore is deemed spectacular in service and cost-efficiency. The Tokyo metro system with the fame of punctuality and comfort serves around 9 million passengers every day. Double-decker buses and an extensive metro system in Hong Kong serve over 90 percent of the total population.
Pakistan needs to catch up with the rest of the world. It is believed that around 40 million people in Pakistan are associated with transport business and transporters pay all kinds of taxes, however, the government has not done much in this regard.
Denizens of Karachi are looking forward to the completion of the bus line services namely Green Line, Orange Line and Yellow Line. The Green Line Bus Rapid Transit project, Rs17 billion federal government-funded bus project, was initiated in February 2016 to be completed over the span of one year, however, even after the lapse of three years, the project has not completed rather has added to the miseries of the commuters. Though the project seems to be near completion, the red tapism might have crept into causing hitches and glitches.
The metro bus service in Rawalpindi and Lahore as well as some other projects launched over the period of last couple of years have been welcomed by the masses, however, it is too little too late. The recent bus service with a fleet of 18 buses inaugurated for five districts of Sindh namely Larkana, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, Hyderabad and Shaheed Benazirabad must be hailed since it would surely facilitate the passengers traveling in these densely-populated districts. However it is literally a drop in the ocean. A speedo bus service in Lahore launched a couple of years ago hit snags in the wake of a complex fare system. Some found it convenient whereas others were of the opinion that ground realities were not considered to facilitate the masses with economical transportation. The Lahore-Kashgar Pak-China luxury bus service initiated a year ago charging Rs13,000 for one-way and Rs23,000 for a round trip is a paradigm for the future projects of such nature.
Exorbitant fare charged by the transporters is reported pretty frequently by the commuters and the passengers traveling within the cities and inter-cities throughout Pakistan. The relevant authorities seem to have turned a blind eye to the grievances of the populace. It was recently reported that the transporters in Karachi hiked the fares by up to 100%. The commuters were compelled to pay Rs 40 instead of Rs 20 charged earlier failing to which scuffles broke out between the passengers and the conductors of the buses and eventually the passengers were asked to disembark from the vehicles. The relevant authorities must monitor the fare being charged for inter-city travel. Bus fare from Karachi to Hyderabad was Rs 120 some years ago, however, it is around Rs 400 now. The relevant authorities could cancel route permit under Section 62 of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance-1965 in case of violation.
The general populace needs to be facilitated with safe, efficient and cost-effective transportation which is the responsibility of the state.