The Lahore Metro Service, owned by the Punjab government, is a bus service offering rapid transit. The Prime Minister of Turkey and the Punjab Chief Minister were essential in the creation of this new form of transportation and were at the grand opening along with many other important people in the country. This bus service started offering rides to passengers in February of 2013. There is currently one line but the addition of another line is planned in the future. The Lahore Metro Service is under the control of the Punjab Metrobus Authority and the online ticketing system is managed by the Punjab IT Board.
There are 29 stops on the 27 kilometer bus route that goes from Gajumata to Shahadra. The route stops at several locations on Ferozepur Road, the main road between Lytton Road, the MAO College, the Lower Mall, the court offices, the Shrine of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh, Ravi Road and Shahdra. Some of the areas on the route are up in the bridge while others are on flat roads through towns and villages.
The Lahore Transportation Company was created in the mid 1980’s due to the traffic congestion in Lahore. LTC was the only organization with the ability to conduct mass travel in Lahore since December of 2009. The first group of buses bought for use in this area numbered 650 and the fleet was called TransLahore. The problem was that these buses had to travel on the same roads as all the other traffic in the area so it was not really rapid transit. There was talk for many years of developing a true metro system but instead in 2011 the government decided to expand the Metrobus System.
Several different contractors were awarded different parts of the construction project including M/S Zahir Khan & Brothers and M/S Reliable Engineering Services Limited who were responsible for most of the flyover areas and the ramps corresponding with them. The contractors started work in Spring of 2012 and the first buses were on the road in February of 2013. The department in charge of the construction, the TEPA (Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency) worked with the LAD (Lahore Development Authority). The rapid bus transit system cost almost 30 billion to build. The governments of Turkey and Punjab worked together on the project. The Lahore Metrobus is scheduled to be expanded very soon. They plan on adding 15 km to the route that exists, 10 km to the north all the way to Kala Shah Kaku and 5 km in the south to Lda City.
Today, the Lahore Metrobus System has 86 vehicles that operate on a 28 km long road, Ferozepur Road. The buses go an average of 26 km/h. The government was planning on allowing citizens to ride at no cost for the first 30 days but there were too many people so they had to start charging Rs. 20 (about 20 cents in US dollars) immediately for all travel no matter what the route. The Lahore Transportation Company now averages 180,000 people riding the Metrobus every day, with up to 10,000 people riding in an hour at the busiest times of the day. The government expects this number to go up by 22% in the next 8 or 9 years. The Punjab Government subsidizes the fares, paying Rs 40 for every ticket so that everyone can afford to use the transportation.
The Lahore Metrobus route was designed to meet the requirements of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. The route is protected from the general public by a barrier, the fare collection system operates at the waiting areas, passengers don’t have to wait longer than 2 minutes for a train in peak transit times, the signage is easy to understand and the bus docking system meets the industry standards. This means that passengers are able to get to the terminals and the bus docks without going across dangerous roads thanks to the design that incorporates escalators and tunnels. Ample parking is available for passengers whether they drive a large car, drive a motor cycle or ride their bike.
The Metrobus ticketing system offers two options for passengers buying tickets. Passengers can buy a ticket good for single ride for Rs. 20 (about 20 cents in US dollars) at the ticket booth at the stations or using the TVM (ticket vending machines). Passengers who ride more frequently have the option to buy a chipped card much like a credit card that they can load up to Rs. 1000 (about $10 in US dollars) onto at a time. Passengers who have these cards can avoid the lines at the ticket booths and ticket vending machines.
The Metrobus system has been very successful and has had very little problems. One issue that did occur in May of 2013 had to do with the buses overheating while driving on the route. The air conditioners went out and fumes from the engine were blowing into the bus. The passengers stuck on these buses were very uncomfortable until additional buses could be brought in to continue the trip. Public relations officials spoke out about the incident, saying that they were guaranteed by the foreign companies that provided the buses that they would be able to operate in temperatures up to 51 C. The companies that supplied the buses were charged a fine and they are no longer getting buses from these suppliers. The existing buses had new air conditioners put in in June of 2013 so the issue would not occur again.
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