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Bus companies reluctant to expand existing fleets

Bus franchises operating in the City have stopped inducting new buses into their existing fleets due to the irresolute polices of the Transport Department and the city district government (CDG).

According to a survey conducted by The Post on Thursday, bus companies are reducing the number of buses on various routes instead of adding new buses. Sources in the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) said that the companies were bound to ply more than 1,500 buses on City routes as per agreement.

According to the Transport Department, 13 transport companies were granted permission to run buses on 34 routes in City. According to RTA data, New Khan Metro Bus Service plies 256 buses on 8 routes, Premier Bus Service 121 buses on 6 routes, Chattha Brothers 85 buses on 3 routes, Daewoo City Bus Service 53 buses on 4 routes, Moonlite Bus Service 52 buses on two routes, Niazi Express 52 buses on two routes, Skyways Urban Bus Service 40 buses on one route, Al-Burak Transport Company and Baloch Urban Transport Company ply 30 and 20 buses on one route each, New Lahore Metro and BHK Sial 10 and 30 buses on one route each, Makks Metro and Allied Business Concern 39 and 21 buses on two routes each.

However, the actual number of the buses operating on the City roads is much less than claimed by these companies in RTA data. The buses jam-packed with passengers present the scene of a cage where passengers are confined like animals.

The Lahorites have been facing transportation problems since 2001 when the Transport Department and CDG allowed bus franchises to ply on City routes and banned wagons from 95 percent routes in the City. However, the Transport Department has failed to increase the number of buses in the City as mentioned in agreements with these companies.

Although these companies were issued route permits with the condition to ply buses on specific routes, corrupt mafia existing in the Transport Department permitted the companies to start their operation without fulfilling the requirements of the agreement.

A Regional Transport Authority official said the franchised system had been prohibited by the Supreme Court and the department could neither force these companies to increase the number of buses nor impose any other conditions. To a question about passengers” problems, he said RTA had reopened 37 routes for wagons.

Sources said that five companies had completely or partly stopped running buses on the City roads. A mechanic at the workshop of a bus company told The Post that most of the buses had broken down and must be replaced immediately. He said that a public bus” average age was five years.

On the other hand, in the light of Punjab government”s policy to get rid of polluting vehicles, CDG and Transport Department has decided to phase out all two-stroke and diesel public transport vehicles by December 2007. Therefore transporters are reluctant to buy new buses.

A transporter said that a diesel bus costs Rs 3.2 million and according to a rough estimate Rs 120 million is required to complete a fleet of vehicles on a route. He said that transporters wanted security of their investment. He said that a CNG bus cost almost Rs 6.5 million and the transporters would seek soft loans along with zero percent import duty for operating CNG-buses in the City.

Chief Minister Ch Pervaiz Elahi has announced 20 percent subsidy on the purchase of new CNG buses.

Source:  The Post

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