BRT: For the people!


There is a great hullaballoo over the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), also known Metro Bus System (MBS), a project launched by the Punjab government in Lahore. The critics are accusing the provincial government of wasting resources and focusing Lahore at the cost of other parts of the province. They are ‘questioning the rationale’ behind the venture, but it is very much clear that all the noise is politically-motivated and aimed at creating misconceptions. Given the baseless reporting and statements issued about the project, it is necessary to share the reality with people.
Lahore is the second largest city of Pakistan with a population of around 10 million, but like other cities of the country, there is no organised modern transport system to serve the citizens. Ever-increasing population and congested roads necessitated innovative thinking and a project like BRT. That’s why the Punjab government decided to address the problem through investing in a project which ensures mobility besides providing easy access to masses, supporting urban life and making the city liveable.
A question may be asked: Wasn’t there any other options? Why BRT? The answer is the BRT is most efficient and cost-effective. Among other options, the average per kilometre cost of ‘Metro Rail’ and ‘Mono Rail’ is Rs6 billion and Rs3 billion respectively. But the expenditure on ‘Elevated BRT’ is Rs1.5 billion, while ‘At-Grade BRT’ costs Rs0.5 billion. Hence, the total estimated cost on the 26.71km-long first phase of BRT (from Gajjumatta to Shahdra) is around Rs26 billion. It is important to note that the government has planned to launch two more phases of BRT – Thokar Niaz Beg to Jallo More (Canal Road) and Thokar Niaz Beg to Anarkali (Multan Road) – in next financial year to ensure that the service covers maximum area of metropolis.
On the other hand, the feasibility study of the Lahore Rapid Mass Transit System (LRMTS), suggested by the previous PML-Q government estimated the cost at US$2.4 billion. Certainly, the current economic situation did not allow to for the much-hyped project; therefore, the PMLN government, which believes in optimum use of available resources, selected the BRT. It is astonishing politicking that former CM Pervaiz Elahi and others are blaming the PMLN of focusing Lahore when they were planning to spend US$2.4 billion on an expensive venture, without considering the alternatives. One must also remember that one dollar is now equal to Rs97.
Another reason for choosing the BRT is its success in various metropolises around the world. The system is currently functioning in 146 cities in the world with a total length of 3,658 kilometres and moving 24 million passengers daily. The number of passengers benefitting daily from the BRT in Latin America and Asia is 15 million and 6.3 million respectively. Cities like Tehran, Ahmedabad and Istanbul many others have opted for BRT during the last 10 to 15 years on high demand corridors to reduce congestion, travel time as well as pollution mainly because it is relatively cheap, flexible, fast, efficient and easier to implement. It also realises equitable democratic distribution of urban road space amongst people, as a car lane carries a maximum of 3,000 people per hour, while a BRT lane can serve up to 24,000 people like in Istanbul where the bus speed in highest – 40 kilometres per hour.
A brief look at the BRT in various cities from around the globe will help in understanding its efficiency and benefits. In the Columbian capital of Bogotá, a four-lane system serves 1.8 million passengers per day, the number for Chinese city of Ginangzhon is 0.8 million. With a two-lane, the BRT in Istanbul caters 0.6 million passengers and 0.2 million in Ahmedabad.
And just to list more positives, the BRT in Lahore will serve for next 12-15 years, while its physical Infrastructure is largely compatible to metro and mono systems (LRT). It will also maximize economic benefits because of scale and serve affluent as well as poor people. At the start of operations, it will cater 30,000 to 40,000 passengers per day.
In short, the detractors should keep in mind that the BRT is an affordable initiative, which will go a long way in reducing emissions and traffic volume. It offers safe, reliable and comfortable transport while saving time and fuel. It will also help attracting investment, and more importantly, create a new culture of public transport and land use in a congested city. The PMLN government deserves the credit for being the first in Pakistan in revolutionising the concept of public transport, a first step towards modern town planning and urban development. Given an opportunity, the PMLN will introduce the system in other cities of the province and the country.
But an entity like PPP, claiming to be a progressive political force, has no development plan even to cite an example. It started as a political force with slogans claiming that it was a ‘genuine left’, but it never bothered following any of their socialist models like Moscow, Calcutta, Delhi or any other former East European communist city. And in the post-1986 era, which pulled it towards the capitalist West, it didn’t shun its ‘anti-development credentials’ and ‘refrained’ from copying the models from the democratic secular world’s underground transit system of New York and London.
And yet PPP tries to brand PMLN as conservative and rightist political force. If rightist or conservative means initiating and completing developmental projects for public then shame on PPP and its so-called secularism and leftist sloganeering.
To inform the PPP and its allies’ feudal hierarchy, BRT will be the only service of its kind where a VVIP will be a common man and all car drivers will have to stop at every red light signal. A huge change in a society dominated by Zardaris, Wattoos and Chaudhrys!


  1. A PMLN sponsored and funded article by a sold-out journalist to booste up election campaign of MS Shaba Sharif. They have deprived Lahore of MetroRail system, which a city of ten million required urgently. Route of this BRT does not flow the pattern of commuter traffic in Lahore which is mostly East-West and is in Northern parts of city. Sharis hv no habit of thinking nor their funded up journalists.

  2. Metro Rail in Lahore is impossible. The city is congested and no maps are available of the underground services like water, gas and sewage. The cost of relocating these services is enormous.
    Furthermore, Pakistan cannot afford the cost (It was estimated as $2.4 billion in 2006-07 and 1 US$ is now equal to Rs103. Please do some homework before imposing projects.
    By the way, PML-Q and PPP and PTI are clamouring over the Rs27 billion project in Lahore and saying that PMLN deprived south Punjab of its share (which has actually been more than doubled by PMLN). Why Chaudhrys are not grilled for proposing $2.4 billion impractical project in Lahore?

  3. Metro Rail in Lahore is impossible. The city is congested and no maps are available of the underground services like water, gas and sewage. The cost of relocating these services is enormous.

  4. Its a flop project time will prove but an excellent election stunt .It will be an express way with the passage of time as currently Punjab government will bare Rs.1 billion per month to keep it running for how long government will sustain such a loss.It is another start of corrupt product by so called Hadim e alla.

  5. Such projects are meant to serve public not to serve and sold publicity stunts of political parties. Last 20 lines of this article is self explanatory. well, six months down the lane and everyone here would get the answer of this BRT project to large extent. just wait till May and people would start feeling the after affects of BRT under 44 Celsius heat and no electricity up to 20 hours per day.

    The most successful BRT of very recent times is Ahmedabad, India. Why it has earned success and why other BRT's in Indian cities of Delhi, Jaipur and Pune (all still to be fully made in the span of 4-9 years) proved to be not fully successful is lack of planning. Delhi BRT would be of 310 km when completed. Ahmedabad BRT of up to 90 km (nearly 44 km is currently fully operational) on which project planning commenced in 2007 shows and speaks of itself that why its so successful (Google yourself and see its maps, images and read its reports). The colour coded maps and reports would give you an answer that how beautifully and carefully they had and have been carrying out BRT.
    The way they deeply studied (pre-project) transportation patterns of the citizens, their movement psyche and behaviours (their possible post-project response towards its utilization) and the years they took in conducting the feasibilities just to make sure the BRT would be an environment friendly, user friendly as well as sustainable (serving for next 30 years) one thus making Ahmedabad a Greener sustainable city.

    This shows the visionary difference of BRT in lahore and of Ahmedabad, India (which is nearly half done till now. i.e less than 50 km )

  6. The colour coded user-friendly readable maps of BRT Ahmedabad, India (clearly showing BRT elevated paths, its operational paths, under-construction and future growths) having all the well-marked stations/stops would remind you as if someone (who has travelled London underground metro) is travelling and reading maps of London underground.
    O yeah btw i am not an indian. Ahmedabad is in Indian state of Gujrat.

  7. Stupid Shahbaz Sharif cancelled the construction of tallest building of South Asia “Mubarak Trade Centre” near Qaddafi Stadium Lahore because it was planned by previous Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, and made this ugly Metro Bus Service in Lahore.
    Metro Bus Service doesn’t looks beautiful in conjested roads of Lahore,it suits to a city having wide roads like Istanbul and Karachi.

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