Pakistan’s intra-city public transport system is in shambles and the government is doing more to make it worse than looking to solve this exigent issue. The country’s most populous and prosperous cities have no state-sanctioned public transport system in place, and the resulting vacuum is filled up with private contractors - that have helped in provided transport for sections of society - but have added to other problems such as congestion, pollution and the degradation of road security.

Ever since the launch of the Metro Bus Line in Lahore in 2013, the ruling party of the time, the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) and other parties (PTI included) have been debating the merits and demerits of the public transit route. The argument in favour of the Lahore Metro is the sheer number of travellers that use it on a daily basis, while detractors will tell you of the limitations of having a metro bus line on one route only, which does nothing to alleviate the transport concerns of the rest of the city. However, the Lahore Transport Company is more than a few steps ahead of its counterparts (where they exist) in other major cities.

Islamabad for instance, has a metro bus route that was planned by the previous government, but ruling PTI has yet to complete it, even though two years have passed since its announced competition date in 2017. Rs10 billion has already been injected into the project, with an additional Rs4 billion needed to finish the project, but the sitting government does not seem to be interested in concluding this expensive project. The Orange Line Metro Train in Lahore is no different; all the current regime needs to do in the case of both projects, is release a final sum and ensure that the work climates int fully functional transit lines.

Sadly however, the government seems indifferent to projects initiated by previous governments; even if they stand to benefit citizens and leaving them unfinished would cause more losses than the money needed to complete them. PTI’s own efforts to create a metro bus line in Peshawar were also severely lacking; with the ADB accusing the government of gross irregularities hinting at mismanagement and even corruption. What this tells us is that mega transport projects within cities looks to be something that might be problematic for the ruling party to deal with. However, before it allows for these projects to simply gather dust and lie in disrepair, it must remember that the previous government has provided with the opportunity to improve transport in several cities with a ready-made formula that has proven to be effective. All it needs to do is release funds and complete projects that are waiting for that final push. It is not that hard to do.