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Islamabad

February 9, 2015
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Pindiites trying to make peace with public transport

Islamabad

February 9, 2015

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While wagons are probably the first choice of transport for most folks in the city, some city residents are yet to make their peace with them.
“Daily I have to wait for the wagon for a long time. And when it finally does arrive, it is jam-packed. So, I continue waiting as I can’t hire a taxi,” says Ahsen Ali, a government employee.
“Where is the wagon stop? The wagon stop near my office is an open air stop and the one near my home is the same, no shelter. If it happens to be raining or if the sun is blazing overhead, one is left to the mercy of the weather till the public transport arrives,” says Rahat Hussain, a private company worker.
“The wagon-stops, if there are any, do not have the routes listed. In the city, almost every wagon stop must have a list of the wagon route -- not just a concealed sheet of wagon fare inside the wagon, which is usually not displayed. It’s by and large the case here. So many times I have asked those standing around or conductors of hit and miss public transport, if certain wagon will take me to where I want to go,” says Nargis Mohib, a nurse in a private hospital.
“The wagons are most of the time crowded. There’s no escape from people considering we live in a city with huge population. But I’d really prefer it if I didn’t feel stifled each time I get into a wagon. Also I do not want to get trampled on or come under the wheels of a vehicle, when I am trying to do something as simple as boarding a wagon,” says Fida Hasan, a small scale trader.
“Most often when I am feeling oh-so-smug about finding a seat and secretly feeling sorry for those standing, some passengers end up supporting themselves near me. While it is in their best interest, I end up with a sour armpit, inches from my face. The only solution to this is to find a window seat, if the luck favors. But I have never been so fortunate,” says Akhter Imam, a property agent.
“I am scared of several things on a wagon. When I

am on a wagon, I am scared of falling down as at times door is kept open, frightened of twisting an ankle, I feel claustrophobic and though I believe in the inherent good of people, I cling on to my purse in the fear that I will be robbed,” says Dua-e-Zainab.
Safdar Ali, a watch-maker says: “There have been times when I have felt more road rage than the person who is driving the wagon. After spending an average of 11 to 14 hours at work, it would be nice if I didn't have to spend another two to three hours hauling myself from one end of city to the other. And if some passengers manage to get on a bus that’s moving fast, there is the fear of it mowing down other passengers running in order to board it.”
“When most of the wagon empties out, the final destination might still be some kilometers away. And if you are new to the conductor, the conductor repeatedly confirms with you where you want to go once he sees that you haven’t gotten off at the point where the bus empties out. It’s just terrible,” says Feroze Hasan, a retired AGPR worker.

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