Karachi: Millions of commuters in Karachi face problems due to inadequate public transport facilities in the city, and improving this vital sector means easing lives of Karachiites. There are three simple ways to improve public transport system in the city to a great extent.
The first step is to implement color coding of all public transport buses. This is necessary to introduce order and discipline in this chaotic sector. Presently, the buses and minibuses plying in the city are painted in different colors which give them disorderly look. It should be ensured that all buses and minibuses of the city are painted as per official color coding: red by wide-bodied buses and yellow for narrow-bodied minibuses. No leniency in this regard to be shown, as if a public transport bus plies on the city street it must be painted in official color code.
In all urban cities of the world proper bus color coding is a must for public transport. There is no concept of running urban public transport buses painted as per fancy of their owners. Like other sectors public transport is also an organized sector and it should also look well-organized.
The second step should be rationalizing bus fare slab. There should be one bus fare for both minibuses and ‘coaches’. Extra fare facility was given to the coaches on the condition that they would avoid overloading, but as they have failed in this regard they should be treated as other ordinary minibuses, and given route numbers instead of ‘names’ like Sheeraz Coach or Niaz Coach. The rationalizing of bus fare should also take care that the bus fare is calculated on the basis of CNG use, as presently the transporters are using cheap CNG but charging fare on the basis of use of diesel.
No sector is allowed to exploit consumers. Getting fair profit is the right of public transporters, but at the same time genuine interests of commuters should also be safeguarded by the government regulatory authorities. Running public transport system on fair basis would not lessen the profits of transporters but give them even more business and winning the loyalty of consumers is the basic principle of doing business. This simple step of rationalizing bus fares would produce a win-win situation for both commuters and public transporters.
The third simple step should be to introduce at least 500 new public transport routes for wide-bodied buses and transporters willing to ply buses on these new routes should be offered incentives including tax relief. The city has expanded in all directions and unless new bus routes are run to facilitate commuters of these suburban areas the chronic public transport problems cannot be resolved.
The Sindh transport department and other agencies related to this sector can easily transform the road-based public transport system of Karachi if these three simple steps are taken by them. If these steps are taken seriously they could pay wonderful dividends. These seemingly simple steps would surely bring big and lasting changes greatly facilitating commuters and also showing good governance of the provincial administration visible on streets.