New public buses to hit Lahore’s roads

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LAHORE: The Punjab Mass-transit Authority (PMA) is all set to start running 200 new public buses on feeder routes for the Lahore Metro Bus routes as early as December. The feeder bus service will connect the rest of the city with the 27-km-corridor of the Metro Bus.

The transportation authority has already handed over the possession of Green Town Bus Depot to Daewoo Pakistan Express, the contractor and operator of the feeder buses. Another bus depot in the Lahore Railway Station area would be transferred to the company by next week.

The authority has not yet finalised the date to inaugurate the feeder buses project as these buses have to pass through warranty inspection, vehicle inspection, registration, insurance and installation of e-ticketing and GPS tracking equipment.

PMA Operations General Manager Uzair Shah said some buses had already arrived in Lahore while others were awaiting Customs clearance in Karachi. “Though the PMA wishes to start the feeder buses by tomorrow, all these formalities would take some time [to complete],” he added.

A Daewoo spokesperson confirmed 65 buses had reached Lahore and the remaining buses were awaiting clearance of Customs department. He said the company was sorting out bus terminals and parking-related issues with the government.

To a question, he said the company was simultaneously working on several aspects of the Lahore Metro Bus service to start the feeder bus service at the earliest. However, it might take a month and a half in starting the service, he added.

Initially, these buses would run on 14 feeder routes of the Lahore Metro Bus service, covering 123km. Later, more buses would be inducted in a phased manner once Lahore Orange Line Metro Train becomes operational.

The authority has already completed its homework to integrate e-ticketing systems of both the Lahore Metro Bus service and feeder buses.

The authority had inked an agreement with Daewoo Pakistan Express in February for procurement, operation and maintenance of 200 feeder buses for integrated bus operations in Lahore. Earlier, it was announced these buses would hit city roads in April, but the project was delayed owing to disagreements between the authority and the operator on contractual terms.

The issue was later resolved amicably and the operator ordered new buses. Daewoo has invested Rs3 billion in the procurement of 200 new buses, including 162 large and 38 small ones.

The company will own and operate these buses on the feeder routes of the Lahore Metro Bus service and bill the PMA on per kilometre basis. The authority will pay Rs165 and Rs140 per kilometre for large and small buses, respectively.

Initially, 200,000 passengers would benefit daily from the new buses as estimates suggest each bus can transport around a thousand passengers a day. Documents show the contract runs for six years, and can be extended with mutual consent. The authority has plans to run 1,400 standard or minibuses on 104 routes with a route length of 951km.