Buckle up folks! It’s going to be a tough ride


Just two days on the road and the future of the new AC/CNG buses is already in doldrums. So dramatic was the buses’ second day in Punjab that Busco, one of the companies that are operating the bus service, has announced to suspend the services for extended periods of time during the day. THE HONEYMOON: With their CNG cylinders filled to the brim, the sun was bright and beautiful and birds were tweeting for the 56 buses the day Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his MPAs had to take them out on a test run and watch Chinese movies, in Chinese, on the glossy LCDs installed in the buses. THE TRIALS BEGIN: Come day two, with no CM and no MPAs, the buses had to stand in line like the rest of the vehicles in the city to wait for CNG pumps to open after a long break. Apparently, the Lahore Transport Company is “yet to finalise” its discussions with the federation regarding the 5-day gas load shedding in the province and “no mechanism had been reached so far”.
“We will settle the matter soon, there will be enough gas for the buses in the future,” said LTC Enforcement General Manager Kamran Khan. Only some of the buses were able to come out of the ordeal with gas and took to roads to begin their daily commute. However, this is not where their trial ended.
AND THERE WERE MORE: Students, having got on a bus on B-09 route from Railway Station to Kahna refused to pay the fairs and started a brawl with the bus staff.
“Why should students pay the fair? Rs 32 in fair are preposterous. Did the CM pay the fair when he travelled on the bus that day?” said Abdullah Rana, a Punjab University Student, while talking to Pakistan Today. “All other bus companies like New Khan give a 50 percent discount to students. The Punjab government should give them a discount on these new buses also,” said Fayaz Muhammad, a rickshaw driver. Busco, under LTC’s auspice, set a fair ranging from Rs 15 to Rs 32 for the new buses. The students, however, refused to pay it since they deemed it to be ‘too high’ and demanded a free ticket to travel on the buses.
BUSCO HAS HAD ENOUGH: Not wasting a minute, Busco has taken immediate action and has stopped its bus service from 7am to 10am and 12pm to 3pm to avoid student passengers. According to data available with Pakistan Today, the B-9 route which covers the Kahana, Gajumta, Youhanabad, Kainchi, Kalma Chowk and Railway Station stops caters to the students of at least a 100 schools and colleges. When called to be asked how the Punjab government and LTC plan to provide transport to these students, the phones were not answered.
“The CM can Facebook all he can, our problems are still intact. The government should have made sure that the buses continue to function, at least,” said Irfan Imran, a student who uses the B-9 route.
‘UNACCEPTABLE’: Khan, terming the students’ behaviour as ‘unacceptable’ said, “the students should realise the problems being faced by the public and should not create such problems for the government”, adding “Busco has invested more than Rs 750 million and the least the people can do is pay their fair.” He said the issue would be ‘resolved soon’ and the rest of the 55 buses would reach the city next week.


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