LAHORE – Despite tall claims of the Lahore Transport Company (LTC) of brining about a ‘revolution’ in the City transport system and providing ‘state-of-the-art’ bus services on different routes, the commuters continue to face multiple problems.

Among these problems, a survey conducted by TheNation tells us, the major ones are shortage of buses, inequitable fare system, about two dozen ‘empty routes’ on which buses do not operate, unfair challan system, failure of LTC’s enforcement officers to manage the traffic, disinterest of local transporters in investment in the urban sector, about 85,000 Qingqi rickshaws plying different routes and so on.

The LTC had announced about six months ago that the company’s officers would occasionally travel in buses to monitor the common people’s plight and analyse the merits and demerits of the City transport system, but until now none of them has bothered to do so.

The LTC recently claimed that it had provided state-of-the-art bus services on 27 City routes, but still as many other routes are ‘empty’. A local transporter told this scribe on request of anonymity that the LTC was not giving them route permits. “The LTC is facilitating foreign transport companies at the cost of local transporters,” he alleged.

The LTC also claimed that efficient and affordable transport facilities had been provided to the general public on route B-41 (Railway station to Liaqtabad); B-55 (Railway Station to Sabzazar); B-56 (Thokar Niaz Baig to Raiwind); B-8 (Railway Station to Allama Iqbal Airport); B-28 (Airport to Valencia); B-18 (Railway station to Tajpura; and B-49 (Railway Station to Kamonke).

Lahore needs about 2,000 buses to meet the need of millions of daily commuters, but a transporter said on condition of anonymity that hardly 350 buses were currently plying City routes. He added that local transporters lost their interest in the urban transport sector because of the LTC’s policies. The shortage of transport becomes severe during CNG holidays from Monday to Wednesday.

The passengers have to wait for at least half an hour to get a bus from one destination to other. One can see dozens of passengers waiting for bus on The Mall, Jail Road, Ferozpur Road and other routes.

One can also see thousands of Qingqi rickshaws because buses do not ply on Allama Iqbal Road. Similarly, no good transport is available on Multan Road, from Kalma Chowk to Sherakot, and from Green Town to other destinations. A critical analysis of bus routes shows that the LTC has focused the established areas to ply buses and neglected underdeveloped areas.

The unfair and unmanaged fare system is another headache that commuters have to face on a daily basis. Passengers pay a minimum fare of Rs15 when they travel by bus, but vans charge Rs10 for the same.

The LTC, to curry favour with the new companies, is trying to bring students in the fare chain by introducing ‘student concessional card’ for them. It is a tradition of decades that students who travel by buses do not pay since they cannot afford to pays fare on a daily basis.

Most of the students using public transport to go to their schools and colleges belong to poor and lower middle class families; and their parents cannot be expected to give them Rs30 to Rs50 per day for only paying fare.

Another problem is the total failure of LTC’s enforcement officers to manage the traffic system. The officers have been hired on high salaries though no one knows about the criteria of their hiring or their job description. They can only be seen issuing receipts to rickshaw owners on the Canal Road and facilitating as much as they can the new companies’ buses by ignoring their overloading.