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‘Red Line to be world’s first zero-emission mass transit service’

By Our Correspondent
November 30, 2019

The Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded Red Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, which will be a 26.6-kilometre corridor joining Model Colony and Numaish, is going to be the world’s first zero-emission mass transit service.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam stated this on Friday as he met Sindh Governor Imran Ismail at the Governor House.

Aslam briefed Ismail on the Red Line BRT project, saying that the federal government would provide $48 million (around Rs7.5 billion) for the project. It would be the world's first zero carbon emission mass-transit project that would consume biogas generated through animal waste available in the city.

The ADB has approved $235 million loan for the Red Line BRT project. The federal adviser also briefed the governor about the new electric vehicle policy and the Green and Clean Champion Scheme of the federal government.

He said centres for the Green and Clean Champion Scheme would be set up at the University of Karachi. Any person interested in participating in the scheme could register themselves through a mobile app-based web portal, where they could upload any positive activity carried out to further the campaign.

Ismail lauded Aslam's efforts and said under the electric vehicle policy, Karachi would have pollution-free, environment-friendly and affordable transport facilities. The governor said loans were being provided to prospective young entrepreneurs on easy terms under the 'Kamyaab Jawan' programme.

Ismail said under an initiative of the federal government, around one billion saplings would be planted in Sindh during the next four years and the Centre would provide Rs5 billion for it. The plantation campaign would be monitored by a high-level committee headed by the governor.

A day earlier, a conference on the Red Line project was held at a hotel. It was organised by the ADB in collaboration with the Sindh government, UN Green Climate Fund (GCF), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the financiers of the Red Line project.

It was told at the conference that Karachi will have the first ever transport system in Pakistan to use biomethane produced from animal waste as a fuel resource for the 213-bus fleet of the Red Line BRT.

The BRT project has been renamed as the Karachi Breeze Red Line Project which is approximately a 29-kilometre corridor, extending from Model Colony in Malir in the northeast of the port city to Mazar-e-Quaid and Jinnah Avenue in its southwest, where it will intersect at Numaish with the Green Line corridor that is currently under construction.

Giving a detailed overview on the project, ADB Principal Urban Development Specialist David Margonsztern said the Red Line is half a billion project sponsored by the ADB, AIIB and AFD and it is the first transport project ever approved for additional funding – including a $12 million grant – by the GCF.

As for the project’s financing, he told the conference that the ADB is providing $235 million loan for the project, while the AFD will provide $71.8 million for civil works and equipment and the GCF will provide $37.3 million for the biogas plant and incremental cost for green fuel technology and an additional grant of $11.8 million for lane strip pavement for BRT lanes, bioswales, etc. The Sindh government’s share in the project’s cost is $75.5 million for utility relocation, taxes and resettlement cost.

The project is expected to prevent emission of 245,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year. “This is a very large amount,” he stressed. Commenting on the operation design of the project, he said the Red Line BRT will be a subsidy-free operation system, which means all the subsidy will be frontloaded into the infrastructure. “Once the system opens, we hope it will not require additional subsidies to operate.”

The operation and management cost, according to the ADB specialist, could be covered through revenues generated from the system. Sharing their revenue model, he explained how the revenue will be collected from bus fares, bicycle sharing system, property management, advertising and other avenues.

“All these revenues will go into the firm management company, most probably, a local bank. This bank will redistribute all the revenue among all the private sector operator of the system,” he said and added that they even renamed the project to Karachi Breeze Red Line Project keeping the revenue prospects in mind.