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February 19, 2018
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New public buses will begin operating in Karachi before March 15: minister

Karachi

February 19, 2018

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The public transport-deprived citizens of Karachi will be able to travel on new buses plying the city roads by as early as March 15, said Minister for Transport Syed Nasir Shah on Sunday.

Speaking to The News about the public transport initiative announced almost a year ago by the Sindh government which will bring 600 new public buses to city roads, Shah said the locally manufactured vehicles will be delivered by the builders in phases and they will run on Sharea Faisal in the first phase.

According to the minister, the fare to take these new buses will be the same as the current fare being charged by mini-buses. When questioned about resistance from local transporters who had in the past protested against and managed to get the green bus service introduced by the previous government discontinued, Shah said for this project, the Sindh government had taken them into confidence.

He added that the government agreed to most of their suggestions, but declined to increase fares. “These transporters were apprised that fare cannot be enhanced as the government is providing subsidy to them,” he said.

The minister further said that the government is also deliberating upon importing some buses for the project under the public-private partnership mode. “The government is keen to provide a cheap mode of transport to citizens as they have been facing an acute shortage of transport for a long time,” said Shah.

Replying to a question about the traffic mess in the city, he said encroachments along roads is the biggest hurdle in the smooth flow of traffic. He added that he himself gets stuck in traffic at times and the government is committed to resolving the critical issue at all costs.

In January, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had approved the release of Rs195 million for the ‘Intra-City Bus Project’ paving the way for 32 new public buses to be operated along Sharea Faisal.

While the Sharea Faisal buses would be the project’s first phase, the second would entail introduction of new passenger buses on five different routes across the metropolis. The provincial government has earmarked Rs2 billion to be deposited with ‘Sindh Modarba Ltd’ to support subsidy requirements of the project over a period of five years.

With a population of more than 20 million, Karachi has been facing a severe shortage of readily-available public transport, forcing commuters to cram into and even travel on top of the available buses, which are already in a dilapidated condition.

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