Karachi is a metropolitan city, which is passing through an uncontrolled phase of urbanization and motorization because all the quality services of health and education as well as entertainment are accumulated in Karachi as compare to the rest of the Sindh province. Besides, it’s an economic hub due to the Arabian sea and other infrastructure facilities like air port , industrial zones etc. It also appears the attractive place for migrants from all over the world due to the requirement of cheap labor for the industrial zone and other economic activities.
These externalities have developed a big pressure over the very poor public transportation system of the city, run by private companies. The insufficient number of buses enhances the problem when the poorly maintained buses are driven by the untrained unprofessional drivers. They drive the buses speedy in rush hours, produce hustle bustle environment around in peak hours and in hot weathers and pollute the environment with noise and smoke. The drivers and the conductors of these public buses also harass their female passengers doing awful acts, which is the main reason of increase in wearing abayas and scarves even in hot summer and very congested conditions within the buses. Furthermore, due to such conditions, people prefer to ride their motor bikes and cars, which results in traffic congestion.
According to JICA Person Trip Study, 2005, “The city’s present public transport system constitutes a small percentage of total vehicle fleet (4.5 percent) and serves about 42 percent of passenger demand.”
The Karachi Metrobus is a 109 km (67.7 mi) bus rapid transit planned for Karachi, on behalf of the Federal Government of Pakistan. The expected daily ridership would be 350,000 and the project will be started by February 2017.
The Karachi Strategic Development Plan (KSDP) 2020 described 16 objectives for transport sector, among which following are linked with this project:
- Provide safe and efficient mobility for people and goods, Improve public mass transportation system, targeting affordability and convenience,
- Strengthen existing transportation infrastructure and services by considering various alternatives,
- Evolving a comprehensive transportation plan development and modeling to address vehicular traffic, public mass transportation (bus line and rails based), parking to provide for development of roadway and public transport/mass transit infrastructure development priorities for long range, and
- Develop transport infrastructure to support planned land use changes, especially strengthening links between Central Business District (CBD) and polycentric commercial center nodes.
Thus the main benefit of this project to the citizens will be the alleviation of the severe traffic congestion problems which are integrated with noise and air pollution. This will improve the quality of life of the daily commuters by reducing the travel time on one hand and addresthe monopoly of the transport mafia on the other.
Most of the mega infra structure projects in Pakistan tends to failure from one aspect or the other due to several reasons including the realistic approaches towards the sustainability of the projects and the political will and the vested interests of higher authorities. Hopefully this Green Line Bus Project, unlike Islamabad Metro Bus project will avoid using unnecessary expenditure of tax payers’ money on erecting the separate mega infrastructure in shape of mega stations and the separate road network and over bridges or under passes. It can be well managed by the existing sufficient road network by just allocating the proper stops to them and manage it well by develop a mobile phone app for the city that gathers real-time data on the quickest and easiest routes to increase the use of public transportation. The route maps can be installed on the bus stations as well. To run the project, the reasonable fare will be charged to the passengers to sustain the facility and avoid the unnecessary subsidy as is given in case of Islamabad Metro Bus Service.