LAHORE: Passengers traveling through the Metro Bus have been facing problems due to the closure of escalators at different stations while the bus service also has been facing numerous problems in running its operations, Pakistan Today has observed.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government started Metro Bus service in early 2013 aiming to facilitate the citizens with modern modes of transportation but different issues related to its service had been prevailing since day one. Punjab government completed this 27-kilometer long project from Gajjumata to Shahdrah at a cost of around Rs30 billion.
At least 27 stations were built, out of which nine stations are elevated. It was announced that each station would be equipped with generators and escalators but most of the time people face problems due to the closure of these escalators.
Reportedly, metro bus authority received Rs2 billion as subsidy which also included the maintenance and repair of stations and its track, the authorities concerned, however, failed to look after matters pertaining to repair and maintenance.
During a survey of Metro Bus stations, it was witnessed that escalators at various stations; Qurtaba Chowk, Muslim Town, Secretariat and Gaddafi stadium lie dysfunctional. Moreover, many stations lacked power supply as no functional generators were found.
The track of the service is also in a hapless condition at various points. This condition can be witnessed near the MAO College Station where the elevated track is highly uneven and reduces the speed of the buses. Despite the passage of several months, authorities remain reluctant to repair it.
At the time of its inauguration in 2013, authorities claimed that the facility would be of international standards and the experience of traveling in a metro bus would be a comfortable one; however, hundreds of commuters, on a daily basis, can be seen complaining about overcrowded buses and the consequent suffocation.
Many passengers complain of a dysfunctional air conditioning system as well. A commuter, Zia, told this scribe that due to the lack of buses, people had to face a lot of problems, particularly during peak hours. He added that although it was a cheap mean of transport, it could not be said that it was providing extraordinary services to the citizens.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, Punjab Mass Transit Authority (PMTA) Operations General Manager Syed Uzair Shah said that currently, 14 out of 96 escalators were dysfunctional on account of maintenance, which would be repaired very soon.
He said that all stations were equipped with generators that helped to keep the escalators functional during load shedding. Uzair further informed that PMTA issued work orders after completing the due process, which at times caused a delay in procurement of materials required for maintenance.