LAHORE – Though only three in number and, according to the Punjab government, part of a pilot project, the Lahore Transport Company on Thursday introduced “women-only” public transport at three major routes of the City. The Pink Bus Service was started on Routes # B22 (from Thokar Niaz Beg to Jalo), B33 (from Green Town to Railway Station), and at B1 (from RA Bazaar to Sanda). Giving a comfortable look and run by the transport companies, namely “First Bus Service”, “Max Met”, and “Askar Metro,” the buses would, run on CNG fuel, have female ticket collectors.

The PML-N-led provincial government, which in fact has launched its election campaign, claims that more women-only buses would be introduced. PML-N MNA Hamza Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister’s Advisor Begum Zakiya Shahnawaz, along with other party members, inaugurated the project at Club Chowk, The Mall. There is a severe shortage of public transport in all the major cities of Punjab including Lahore. About 2,000 buses are required to meet the demand of hundreds of thousands daily commuters in the City, but not more than 250 buses are currently plying at all routes of Lahore. The LTC has also recently injected about 40 Chinese buses at the City’s routes, thanks to the fast approaching general election.  At the already plying few buses, the passengers are separated by gender, female in front and male behind. Female passengers having small areas at front portion of a bus are usually not feeling too uncomfortable with the ride. In all the buses, male staffs collect ticket from packed women passengers which creates further nuisance for them. Though, the female staffs are already working at inter-city transport, a newly operated transport company has recently introduced female bus conductors at a intra-city route, but these mini buses are not women specific and plying only at route no 1, the buses are small in numbers.

A female student of Punjab University appreciated the idea of separate bus service for the females. She said that she travelled from Thokar Niaz Beg to PU Campus on daily basis and felt difficulty on travelling buses at the route B22 because only small numbers of buses were plying at the route. She said that hundreds of female students have to stand at bus stops for hours in waiting of transport. “It might help now, I am delighted,” said the student when she was informed about the female bus service. People from different walks of life appreciated the step of the Punjab government for introducing the service. However, they demanded more buses and urged the government to work on war footing in introducing public transport in all the cities.

Hamza Shahbaz Sharif while inaugurating the buses said that provision of modern and affordable transport facilities to the people was the priority of the government. He said that development of transport sector would provide relief to the people and reduce their problems. In case of the success of the pilot project, Hamza said the service would be started on more routes. He announced that 550 more buses would be introduced on city roads in March which would resolve the transport problem.