Lack of regulation has made public transport sector of Karachi chaotic and messy, resulting in immense problems for the millions of commuters of this mega city and the inept bureaucracy still has no clue about how to tackle this serious urban social issue.

Every sector including the public transport sector is governed by the demand and supply rule, but the bureaucracy here has failed to ensure there is sufficient number of buses and minibuses in the city to cater the needs of huge commuter load. This causes crowds of commuters waiting at bus stops and dangerously overcrowded minibuses with commuters even sitting on their rooftops. These roof racks stay despite the instructions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to dismantle them.

The transport department officials do not care if the public transport buses are driving on their authorised routes are not. There are dozens of the routes of buses, minibuses and coaches that have been practically closed, but on the paper these routes are fully operational. The government should have cancelled the route permits of transporters who are not interested to play their vehicles on these routes and invite other transporter to obtain these routes, but this practice is yet to be started.

Private transporters have got a free hand to obtain more than one route permits despite the fact that do not have enough vehicles available to play on these routes. Resultantly, they run buses on the most profitable routes and ignore other routes; though all public transport routes in Karachi are profitable as commuter demand is more than supply. The route issuing authorities should link the route permits with specific vehicles, so these minibuses may only be run on their authorised routes. The name of the route should be painted on front, rear and the sides of the vehicle so that it plied only on that particular route and not switched to any other route as per the wish of its owner.

Another grave fleecing of commuters is that the public transport runs on cheap CNG but charge fare on the basis of use of costly diesel.

The system of issuing fare tickets to commuters is not being followed in Karachi due to sheer inefficiency of transport department. Issuance of fare ticket to commuter is the first requirement of urban public transport system, but despite this requirement is there on books of laws and rules, the bureaucracy do not bother to implement it.

The public transport system in Karachi could not improve till only wide-bodied buses are allowed to ply on its streets and all narrow-bodied minibuses and coaches are phased out from the city. This needs a strong political will and vision on the part of government. Karachi public transporter is immensely profitable sector and if the government announces giving bus routes only to wide-bodied buses many new investors would jump into arena for making quick money.

The main reason of failure of public transport sector in Karachi is that it is politically orphaned. The political leaders of Karachi have never tried to change the urban transport culture of their own city and provide better commuting facilities to their own voters. This has made this mega city a city of rickshaws and Chinches. If the ministers and government officials lack a vision of a modern urban public transport culture, it is no fault on their part as often they belong to rural areas and feudal culture, still living in era of horse-driven carriages and donkey carts. It is the responsibility of the urban politicians to prove their urban culture and enlightened mentality to give their city a respectable public transport culture it duly deserves

MUHAMMAD SAAD,

Karachi , February 2.