Lack of quality public transport continues to be a major concern for commuters in Islamabad
s a university student living in a private hostel in the federal capital, the daily commute is not the easiest, especially if it takes multiple stops and vehicle changes. Every morning begins with a struggle: it’s a struggle to reach the university campus just in time, a struggle that often bears little fruit.
Living in Islamabad, I have to make two stops every day to get to the campus, and that often leads to late attendance or missed classes. Travelling in multiple vehicles on a single route is also costly and unsafe. The drivers are ruthless; not entirely their fault. The chicken-carrier-like wagons can be an uncomfortable ride for the passenger and the person behind the wheel, too.
It is the female passengers who suffer the most, I have observed. They take little space, remain attentive and are stressed. The journey is not easy for anyone, but it is much tougher for women. They are, in this day and age still easy targets of harassment, and public transport is notorious for such happenings.
Road accidents and rash driving only add to the stress of the passengers who take the cheaper rides to work, school and elsewhere. An accident occurs, people are injured, the drivers argue, passengers panic, and the world goes on.
Private companies have already started providing transport services and they have proved quite helpful over the past few years. A click on the phone application, and you have a pick-up planned. Unfortunately, privately owned transport facilities are much costlier in comparison to the not-so-good old local vans. A student, like myself, in such a case, would prefer the unsafe ride because it does not burden the pocket that much.
There are no safety measures for the passengers and no checks for the maintenance of the transport vehicles.
Private companies have already started providing transport services, and they have proved quite helpful over the past few years. A click on the phone application, and you have a pick-up planned. Unfortunately, privately owned transport facilities are much costlier in comparison to the not-so-good old local vans. A student, like myself, in such a case, prefer the unsafe ride because it does not burden the pocket that much.
The Metro service is quite reliable these days. With the ever-increasing fuel prices, it is a good idea to keep the cars and bikes at home. Many, I have noticed, have begun using the much-maligned Metro these days. After all, it is cheaper, safer and faster. It also has stops all over the twin cities.
The average salary in the country’s capital is around Rs 60,000. Spending Rs 400-500 on a daily basis for a trip to the office is definitely not affordable for a salaried person. Therefore, public transport like the Metro is a cheap alternative for them.
Public transport is more helpful in every aspect. In a metropolitan city like Islamabad, it improves the health of the community, provides economic benefits, and improves fuel efficiency. Public transportation reduces air pollution, reduces road congestion, improves community mobility, provides an equitable transportation system, and much more. Cities like Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which have a large number of students and employees who have to travel on a daily basis, need more facilities like this. In addition, it is beneficial in terms of savings. By improving public transport services and keeping a check on local alternatives under private ownership, women’s mobility can be improved as well. Many women who want to work or study are unable to do so simply because their city does not have a proper transportation system.
The government of Pakistan should pay more attention to the provision of public transport. The Metro Bus Service is one that has proven beneficial, but more thought needs to be put into developing sustainable transport facilities not just for a few major cities but the whole country.
The writer is a Media Communication student at NUML, Islamabad and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org