Khadam-i-Aala Punjab has embarked upon an ambitious project of constructing a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Lahore. There should hardly be any doubt about the efficacy of the project which will revolutionise commuting within the clogged arteries of the city. Costing billions of rupees this novel idea has stirred opposition from some of the political elite, bureaucrats and intelligentsia. However the idea needs to be sold to the public as a beneficial enterprise. It will not only drastically cut down the traveling time but also would be cost effective and as comfortable as a monorail or Mass Transit trains would be. It would also give a similar impressive and modern look to the city. The critics are skeptical about its success and consider it a huge wastage of the tax payer’s money which is an unfair accusation. The facts tell a different story of this great project which has been adopted by major cities of the world. Especially compared to the monorail and mass transit train (MRT), it is a better option for Lahore.
Bus rapid transit (BRT), metro, and monorail technologies could all provide a system with sufficient capacity and speed to improve mass transit system. However, the principal advantage of BRT over metro or monorail is cost. Metro and monorail would require large capital subsidies, and subsidies for the procurement of rolling stock (buses etc). By contrast, BRT would not require subsidies for operation, construction or for the procurement of rolling stock. Because of the high cost of construction of monorail, private investors are very likely to seek government subsidy from the start. This situation was seen in Jakarta where, after official launching in June 2004, the Jakarta monorail company sought funding from the government before continuing construction.
Bus Rapid Transit offers the means to dramatically improve Lahore’s transportation system while simultaneously making the city a better place to live, work, and shop in, by easing the traffic burden. My humble suggestion to critics of this project is to not always belittle politicians but let them fulfil their visions and to not always dishearten the public but let it appreciate progress where it is apparent. I would like to commend the Khadim-e-Punjab for his efforts and suggest that he may ensure illumination of BRT lane and stations through LED lights with solar panels to make them necessarily independent of loadshedding.
Fayyaz Rabbani,
Lahore, August 7.