By Fakhar Alam
PESHAWAR, Dec 17 (APP):Gone were the days when people used to run after wagons to occupy a seat for University of Peshawar (UoP), Hayatabad and vice-versa to General Bus Stand as it was the only speedy option to reach the respective destination within the provincial capital in shortest possible time.
The people, especially students and academicians were waiting for hours at UoP and Islamia College Peshawar’s (ICP) bus stops to get a seat in a wagon and often walk two to three kilometers to nearby stop of Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) to get wagon service instead of buses that usually take very long time to reach Firdus, Hastnagri, Faqirabad, Gulbahar, Warsak and Charsadda Roads and finally to the General Bus Stand for onward travelling to the downward districts.
Women, children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities could hardly avail the service due to rush at bus and wagon stands and limited seats in the wagon, which were mostly occupied by men. As result, the mental agony of people had increased manifolds during harsh weather conditions, rains and often did not reach to their educational institutions and offices on time.
“I can’t forget the pain of waiting for hours at UoP’s bus stop to occupy a seat in wagon and often visited BISE’s stop by covering almost two kilometres distance by foot to grab a seat due to great rush of passengers at the university and ICP stops,” Khurshid Alam, a former student of Master in Public Administration, UOP recalled while talking to APP.
“In case of heavy rains or chilly weather conditions in winter, the passengers got wet and also seen shivering in cold while travelling in passenger buses or wagons during winter season,” said Khurshid Alam who clinched MPA degree from UoP in 2003-05 sessions with distinction.
“It took me two hours to reach the university from General Bus stand while travelling on wagon now the same distance was being covered in less than 30 minutes while travelling through state-of-the-art Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) service, which was a great blessing for people of Peshawar including students, special persons, girls and women,” he said.
While terming the BRT as the country’s first third generation highly successful project of the PTI government, Muhammad Umair Khan, Spokesman of BRT told the news agency that the number of passengers had significantly increased in BRT after easing of the pressure of coronavirus and over 2, 20,000 passengers use the service on daily basis.
Despite severe pressure of Coronavirus in early months of 2021, he said, over 50 million passengers have travelled in BRT this year, which was a matter of great pride for us.
“Since inauguration of the BRT service by Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 13, 2020 at Peshawar, over 60 million passengers benefited from BRT service till to date despite COVID-19 lockdowns and travels restrictions.”
“Before BRT, the travelling ratio of women in Peshawar was less than two percent that was now increased to above 20 percent after the start of this quality service having reserved seats for persons with disabilities, females and even for transgender to ensure travelling facilities for all under the Universal Access System”, the Spokesman said.
The BRT has a 27.5 kilometer-long main corridor track starting from Chamkani to Karkhano Market with 31 stations, besides many feeder route of total 62km by facilitating over 2,20,000 passengers every day.
He said the popularity of the service could be judged from the fact that over one million ZU cards have been distributed so far among people and 30 new buses were included in BRT’s fleet to ensure provide comfortable and quick signal free travelling facilities to passengers increasing with each passing day.
Umair said that currently 220 buses were on the strength of BRT fleet out of which 158 were fully operational. He said buses were being increased keeping in view of pressing load of the passengers.
The Spokesman said 349 old and dilapidated public transport buses and wagons were scrapped and payment was made to its owners, adding the move was aimed to control air pollution and address the issue of traffic jams in Peshawar.
The BRT’s main express routes have been increased and the unique ‘Zu Bicycle Sharing System’, was launched under which 360 modern Zu bicycles were distributed among residents of Peshawar, students and passengers, he said.
Similarly, 32 Docking Stations were established and a latest Zu Mobile Application was launched for facilitation of passengers. Under Clean and Green Vision of Prime Minister of Pakistan, he said that 3,000 trees were planted by the BRT’s administration in Peshawar to combat air pollution.
He said special campaign was launched to create awareness among people about coronavirus, SOPs, breast cancer, polio and others diseases. Likewise, special awareness campaigns were organised by the tourism Department, KP Food Authority and others national organisations through BRT services.
Managing Director, KP Urban Mobility Authority (KP UMA) KP, Bahramand Khan told APP that keeping in view of the enormous success of the BRT, the KP government has planned to extend the service to Khyber and Warsak Roads through construction of new feeders routes to facilitate it’s residents and Government employees under BRT Phase-II.
He said the Institute for Transportation and Development Fund (ITDF) has lauded BRT service for its excellent role in improving people’s mobility, reducing transportation greenhouses and air pollution’s emissions.
The wining of International Sustainable Transport Award 2022 by BRT Peshawar was a great honour for KP government , he added.
The Managing Director, KPUMA said a high level committee under the chairmanship of Provincial Minister for Finance and Health, Taimur Salim Jhagra has been constituted to counter traffic congestion in Peshawar.
He said linking traffic jam with BRT was unjustified. He said traffic jams were also being witnessed in Kohat and Dalazak Roads from time to time due to increase in number of vehicles despite the fact that the service was not available there. He said about 12,000 complaints were received and prompted action was taken for its solution, adding zero tolerance was adopted against harassment or violence in BRT.
To increase revenue and awareness among public, he said different portion of the service was being used for publicity to strengthen BRT and 90 digital screens were installed for dissemination of awareness.
Special Assistant to the Chief Minister for Information, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif said that BRT has revolutionized the transport system in Peshawar from which over 60 million people were benefited since its launch by the Prime Minister on August 13, 2020.
He said people of all ages, castes and creeds under the universal mobility system were being benefited from the service including women and persons with disabilities with comfort, security and swiftness were its hallmarks.