September 9, 2021

All You need to know about metro bus system (Lahore, Multan, Islamabad)

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With the frequent transformation and development in Pakistan, there was a requirement for quick intercity transport. Metrobus system focuses on enhancing quality of transportation while minimizing cost and promising quick transport.

With the sole ambition to cover the metropolitan area of Pakistan, the metrobus services inaugurated its initial phase in June 2015 which linked the areas between Islamabad (i.e., Pak Secretariat) and Saddar. This phase covered area of 22 kilometers and turned out to be a huge success which encouraged the developers to enhance the project and take it to next level, for this very purpose the next phase of the project considered. The second phase of metrobus is still under construction that is supposed to cover approximately 25.6 kilometers connecting Peshawar Morr Interchange and New Islamabad International Airport.  Now if we look into the number of stations included in the route of both metrobus services, the Pak Secretariat-Saddar route has almost 24 stations in the way, whereas, Peshawar Morr-New Airport is expected to have 14 stations in the path. The metrobus service in Lahore has an edge over the services in Islamabad, as in Lahore the services commenced in February 2013 that covered areas of Gajumata and Shahadra.

The most recent launched service of metrobus is Multan Metro. Launched in January 2017, metrobus gave “the city of Saints” a modern touch. Extended up to 18.5 kilometers, the track covers 21 metro stations. The areas covered by the bus start from Bahauddin Zakariya University Terminal and ends at Kumharanwala Chowk Terminal.

The metrobus system in Punjab is overlooked by the Punjab Masstransit Authority(PMA). Punjab Masstransit Authority (PMA) is a legitmate transportation system established by Government of the Punjab with the sole purpose of planning, construction, operation and conservation of mass transit systems in the major cities of the Punjab, Pakistan; for providing safe, efficient and comfortable modern transportation system. PMA aim is to provide state of the art mass transit system for all. The PMA mission is to create and workable mass transit system which is secure, restful and well organzied. The features of mass transit system are planned to serve to the aims and goals of the PMA.

The Metrobus in Punjab provides transportational facilities in the following cities of Punjab

  • Lahore
  • Rawalpindi-Islamabad
  • Multan

So, first lets disscuss the Lahore Metrobus System

Lahore Metrobus System

     Lahore is the second largest city of Pakistan with estimated population of approximately 10 million. The transport evaluated demand by Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is 12 million trips, which includes 4 million short walking trips and 8 million motor-equipped trips, on a usual weekday. The number of vehicles registered in Lahore increased sharply from 95 vehicles in 2001 to 238 vehicles in 2008; per 1000 population. However, motorcycles make up for more than half (57%) of all the registered vehicles, whereas cars represent one third of the registered vehicles in Lahore.

With the an objective to provide secure, systematic and enjoyable modern transportation system and reduce the growing overcrowding problems in Lahore; Punjab Masstransit Authority(PMA) has established Bus Rapid Transit System in Lahore knowns as Lahore Metrobus System. The Metrobus System (MBS) Line-1 from Gajjumata to Shahdara, established in Lahore, is the first system operated by PMA.

The Lahore Metrobus System has the following main features:

  • Two Lane – Limited Access Corridor
  • Gajjumata to Shahdara (27 Km)
  • 27 Stations (Two Curb-side platforms each with three docking bays and level boarding) (18 at-grade and 9 elevated)
  • Platform Sliding doors
  • Escalators
  • Portion from Canal to Data Darbar is elevated (8.3 kms)
  • Automated Fare Collection System with off Board Ticketing
  • Bus Scheduling System
  • Vehicle Location System
  • Passenger Information System (PIS)
  • Intelligent Transportation System for Signal Operations along with the Corridor
  • 64 Articulated Air Conditioned Buses

Ticketing

Two types of ticketing systems exist at the Metrobus terminals:

  • Single-ride tokens that are good for one journey only and can be purchased for Rs. 30 at the on-site ticket booth or the self-service Ticket Vending Machine (TVM).
  • Metrobus Cards that can be utilized for multiple journeys. These Radio Frequency Identification-based cards are credit-card sized and are previously available at the Metro Bus ticket offices for a refundable amount of Rs. 130 but are free of cost since December 2017 on showing your national identity card or Form-B in case you are younger than 18. These cards can be recharged to a maximum balance of Rs. 1000 at the TVMs. The Metrobus cards remove the inconvince of standing in a queue for a token and card-holders can proceed directly to their respective terminals. Same card can also be used on the feeder routes of Metro Bus.

Pakistan Metrobus System

       The Pakistan Metrobus System provides a medium of comfortable transportation between Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Pakistan Metrobus System has the following main features:

  • Two Lane – limited access corridor with passing lane at stations
  • Portion from Saddar to IJP is elevated (8.3 kms)
  • 24 Stations (24 stations: one center platforms each with three docking bays and level boarding, 14 at-grade and 10 elevated stations)
  • Platform Sliding Doors
  • Elevators & Escalators
  • Portion from Saddar to IJP Station is Elevated (8.3 kms)
  • Automated Fare Collection System with off Board Ticketing
  • Bus Scheduling System
  • Vehicle Location System
  • Passenger Information System
  • 68 Articulated Air Conditioned Buses

Multan Metrobus Sytem

       Multan is the 3rd largest city in the Punjab. According to census report of 1998, the population of Multan was 1,197,384 which increased to 1,766,830 in 2014 at an average annual growth rate of 2.60%.

Multan has enormous rail-linked and intercity movement of persons through standard transportation modes. The road network is sharing the major load and is overburdened, thus causing numerous problems to the residents of Multan such as overcrowded places, traffic accidents, environmental mortifications, economic losses etc. These problems increased due to limited right of way and inefficient Public Transportation System.

In order to overcome growing crowd problems, the Government of Punjab has decided to redecorate the public transport sector in Multan. The Punjab Masstransit Authority (PMA) involved a consultant in 2014 for Transport Modeling and Feasibility Study of mass transit systems in Multan. The consultants prepared long term mass transit network for Multan and prepared Feasibility Study for Priority-I i.e. Red Line. The Red Line is Bus Rapid Transit corridor and being operated as Multan Metrobus System (MMBS).

The Multan Metrobus System has the following main features:

  • Two Lane – Limited Access Corridor with Passing Lane at Stations
  • Bahuddin Zakaria University (BZU) to Chowk Kumaharan (18.5 km)
  • 21 Stations (one center platforms each with two docking bays and level boarding, 7 at-grade and 14 elevated stations)
  • Platform Sliding Doors
  • Elevators & Escalators
  • Portion from Northren Bypass to BCG Chowk and Vehari Chowk to Jinnah Park is Elevated (12.5 kms)
  • Automated Fare Collection System with off Board Ticketing
  • Bus Scheduling System
  • Vehicle Location System
  • Passenger Information System
  • 35 Articulated Air Conditioned Buses
  •  

Detail of Metrobus System in Lahore, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi

Lahore Metrobus Service
Operational in February 2013
Headway 2.25 to 3 minutes
Operation Hours 06:15 – 22:00
Initial Number of Buses 64
Number of Stations 27
Islamabad Metrobus Service
Operational in June 2015
Headway 2.25 to 3 minutes
Operation Hours 06:15 – 22:00
Initial Number of Buses 68
Number of Stations 24
Multan Metrobus Service
Operational in January 2017
Headway 2.25 to 3 minutes
Operation Hours 06:15 – 22:00
Initial Number of Buses 21
Number of Stations 35

Need for Metrobus System

Transportation system is much demanded by people as approximately 60% of the people do not own vehicle and 20% cannot afford daily expense of fueling, therefore, there was a requirement of hassle-free transport which would enable people to travel quickly and economically.

Metrobus Ticketing System

With the innovation in transportation system, metrobus had launched smart means of faring, (i) E-Ticketing and (ii) Intelligent Transport System wand. The e-ticketing also known as single ride token can be used for one journey only and is purchased by the ticket vending machine, whereas the intelligent transport system wand or metrobus card can be recharged and used for multiple rides till the card limit end, it is important to note here that the card can be refilled afterwards for more travelling. Amongst both means of ticketing, metrobus card can be considered more preferable for people who wish to travel often by this mode of transportation.

Characteristics of Metrobus System

Metrobus was designed keeping in view the requirement of travelling, and following salient features were considered,

  • Signal free traveling
  • Functional elements for passengers (ticket booth, automated fare collection, etc.)
  • Central room to examine all buses
  • Number of lanes to be chosen per location

Benefits

  • Increased use of public transport
  • Safe travelling
  • Economic faring system
  • Useful tool in attracting tourism
  • Quick traveling
  • Improved pedestrian safety

Failure of Metrobus

The project turned out to be a failure in Multan as it could not meet its requirements of expected passenger and could not complete its target of expected passengers, so few buses were transferred to Lahore stations for services, and a few were parked leaving just 18 buses in operation. So, it can be said that the project turned out less successful in Multan.

Whereas in Islamabad, due to heavy monsoon weather in 2015 the Centaurus station was greatly affected which questioned the quality of infrastructure. Moreover, the passengers target could be met. Despite of giving endless quality services to reduce the use of personal transportation system and boost local transport, people still preferred using their own vehicles. As there less passengers, which clearly gave out the statistics of lesser return, affording fuel for the buses also seem impossible with such less return. In Islamabad too, many buses were parked idle as only a few were being used.

Lahore metrobus had different issue as compared to Multan and Islamabad. In 2013, the late of May, the buses were reported to have air conditioning problems, and the passengers had to bear insufferable heat during traveling and many of the customers raised complaint against it. As the buses were bought in from manufacturers of Volvo and Sunwin, more purchasing was halted, and the air conditioning system was being fixed by the later month.

Conclusion

Without a doubt these projects by the Government of Punjab show promise and more importantly they sure have helped the public as well. I believe that other cities of Pakistan should also take such steps in order to prevent overcrowding of places. I think the next city that can really use such buses is Karachi as it is the most populated city in Pakistan and that means that the transportational needs of its people is even more than that of Punjab.

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