LAHORE   -  The Punjab government has withdrawn subsidy for metro buses in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan that transport 331,000 passengers every day.

Now people will have to pay more in terms of fare as subsidy being given to them has been withdrawn and fare rationalised.

Subsidy for the Punjab Mass Transit Authority, which operates the metro bus service, in 2018-19 was Rs12.919 billion. This budget was revised later and subsidy amount was changed to Rs6,767,012,000.

According to non-development budget document (2019-20), no subsidy has been allocated for the Punjab Mass Transit Authority (metro bus).

According to a government official, fare of buses is likely to increase from Rs20 to Rs30 but nothing is final yet as fare will be decided soon. Another fare policy, which is under discussion, is to introduce fare from ‘zone to zone’ in which passengers will be charged for their zone’s length. New fare policy will be implemented from July 1.

Last year, Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht had said he will rationalize the fare. He said, “The government is providing Rs12 billion annually to Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi metro bus projects. Lahore Metro Bus Service from now onwards, being run from Shahdara to Gajjumata, would be charged on stop-to-stop basis”.

Lahore Metro Bus Service was launched at the cost of Rs30 billion in Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s era. It has 27 kilometer-long route. Approximately, it causes Rs5 million daily loss to the government in the form of subsidy as a uniform fare of Rs20 per passenger fixed for the entire rout. Metro Bus was inaugurated on 11 February, 2013 and stretched from Gajjumata to Shahadra. The service was inaugurated by former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif along with then Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozda.

Multan Metro Bus Service with 18.5 kilometre-long route has 21 satiations and according to new policy, fare among stations is also likely to get a hike.

Currently, the fare between two stations is Rs20 in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan Metro Bus Services which is being rationalised according to the distance. The tickets are being given to travellers from self-service ticket vending machines (TVM).

The decision will not affect metro bus cards currently being used for multiple journeys and can be collected free of cost and can be recharged to a maximum balance of Rs1,000.