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Mediapersons take a ride on metro buses

Mediapersons take a ride on metro buses

ISLAMABAD: Two days before the formal inauguration of the metro bus service, over 300 mediapersons from across the country, led by Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, had their first ride on the much-awaited mass transit facility on Monday.

The round trip on three buses started from Pakistan Secretariat bus station in Islamabad to Saddar in Rawalpindi and back. The 23 kilometres distance was covered in about 50 minutes.

The bus was stopped at I.J. Principal Road station for 10 minutes to show the participants the largest escalator of the country installed there. All the metro bus staff, including security, ticketing and sanitary officials, were also seen on their duties. The participants were also shown the bus depot at H-9 near Peshawar Mor where Pakistan and Turkey’s flags were hoisted.

During the trip, some of the journalists said it was a good idea to provide the citizens with a better transport system. However, others said the quality of work on the project was poor.

“I have used Lahore’s metro bus service but this is no less than a leisure trip,” a journalist said. But his colleague added that the track was bumpy at some points, especially the tiles near the bus stations were very rough.

Another journalist pointed out that there was no cooling system at the bus stations. “The stay of commuters at the bus stations would be short as after every two minutes the next bus will arrive,” said Commissioner Zahid Saeed, who is also the project director.

When another journalist asked about the selection of names for the bus stations, the commissioner said: “We sent a list of names to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for a final approval few months ago and after getting its nod, the names were added to the software prepared for the ticketing system,” he said.

However, he said the CDA made objections over Centaurus and Islamabad district courts bus station. “But it will be difficult for us to change the software which had already been developed,” he said.

When the bus reached Marrir Chowk bridge, a journalist asked about some reports that there was a vibration in the pillars. However, the commissioner said there was no vibration.

In reply to a question, Nespak general manager Danish Raza admitted that the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad were on an earthquake faultline. He said the elevated track had been designed to absorb earthquakes.

The visitors were informed that the total cost of the project was Rs44.8 billion: Rs19.17 billion were spent in the Rawalpindi section and Rs23.84 billion in the Islamabad section, including Rs5 billion on the construction of the Peshawar Mor Interchange. An amount of Rs1.38 billion was spent on the bus depot in Islamabad and Rs0.45 billion on the command and control centre in Rawalpindi.

Moreover, Rs3 billion were given by the federal government for the Peshawar Interchange and the remaining Rs41.8 billion were equally shared by the federal and provincial governments.

The total length of the metro bus corridor is approximately 23 kilometres on which 68 buses would be operated by the private operator M/s Albayrak which was selected through an international competitive bidding. The estimated ridership on the buses would be 135,000 passengers per day.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2015

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