Peshawar BRT: A major step in city’s public transport

Laraib Athar 

As the city’s existing transport infrastructure was unable to cope with the increasing need of the ever-increasing population, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) taken the historic decision to construct the Bus Rapid Transit project.

The project is being implemented with the assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB) and it is believed with its completion, the city dwellers will travel in a state of the art transport system.  This mass transit project was first implemented in 1982 in Brazil, where it showed the best results. After Brazil, such projects were implemented in Mexico, Beijing, Jakarta, Istanbul and Los Angles as well as in other major cities of Pakistan.

According to 2017 census, the population of Peshawar is 1,970,042 making the sixth largest city of Pakistan. The city lacks economic opportunities while the needs for proper housing, public transport, and basic urban services increasing day by day. There is an expectation that the system will provide quality transportation to 3 million residents.

The BRT system has 31 stations and it starts from the east and will end on the west of the city. There will 150 standard bus stops to be installed; about 400,000 passengers will take benefit from it on a daily bases. It is also expected that around 21,000 people are expected to use the service every hour.

The BRT corridor is not just touching the city’s commercial areas but minibuses will pick passengers from the crowded bus stops from across the city.  Thus, it will be helpful in controlling the increasing vehicle population in the city.

Another interesting feature of the project is that it covers every section of the roads in the city – from major hospitals to food spots, from the old business hubs to the new and modern residential continents, and educational institution – the BRT project once completed will connect everything. According to WHO report (2008-2013), Peshawar is one of the world’s 20 most polluted cities in the world. PTI government claimed that BRT will change the lives of people in many ways and there will be no unbearable traffic congestion and roadblocks.

Latest machinery, experienced engineers, skilled workers used in the project, BRT also installed automatic fare collection system at the stations; this would include automatic gates and readers, software communication system and a smart card system.

The maximum fare for BRT would Rs50 and its included parking plaza, Pedestrian Walkways along the length of the BRT corridor, stations equipped with water filtration plant, Ambulance and Emergency vehicle access to BRT corridor.  There are also 20 restrooms and toilets along BRT corridor while construction of drainage way, Pedestrian Bridge and Underpasses with commercial shops and energy-efficient traffic lines will also be set up.  The commuters will also be able to park their private vehicles in the missive parking and use rapid bus service; these features are not available in Lahore, Islamabad or Multan metro.

Moreover BRT would reduce carbon emission as it is estimated that 31,000 tons of carbon dioxide emission will be reduced in first year of the project’s operations while it is estimated the emission will fall by 62,000 tones which will significantly decrease pollution, for the same purpose hybrid vehicles buses used.

Former Chief Minister Pervez Khatak has said I’m ready to face any accountability, any punishment if I involved in single penny of corruption in BRT project.  As well the Director of the project said I’m pretty confident that there is no corruption in the whole project and I’m ready to present myself for accountability. He has added that it is expensive because it’s not a bus project only; it required a whole infrastructure that covers the whole city.

Mumtaz Hassan, a resident of Peshawar said its great project started by KP government. I hope that it would be completed soon.

Sewerage system has been completely changed in the city, elevated escalator and Subway also included, which will avoid disturbing the traffic moving on the different traffic lanes, which will give free flow of movement to traffic.

Former DG PDA Israr ul Haq said earlier: about 9,000 people are working on the project in three shifts, we are also conscious of maintaining the quality of the work so changes in design and addition of new features and structured caused the delay, but it was the need.

He added that Public transport vehicle on the main road like buses and wagons will not be allowed to operate, removing them doesn’t mean they will leave the city but will change their routes because 50-year-old vehicles are the main cause of pollution in the city, rickshaws and cabs will also be reduced on the roads.

A trader said PTI government promoted greater economic activity, prosperity, trade and industry in the province, they resolved many problems of the trading community, he added BRT project was designed for maximum commuting facilities to the people and the traders would also be the beneficiaries of this project.

A worker said that one reason for delayed the construction on BRT track was due to shifting the power cables from one place to another, it took many months, because those power lines were passed over the elevated portion of BRT track so work won’t resume, unless the WAPDA replace them, it affected the civil work too, otherwise round the clock construction work is underway.

Buses were transported from China via seaport.  All the buses are environment-friendly because they will be run on diesel, not on the CNG that also increased the bus prices. The buses will have doors on both sides, and low floor entrance. All buses will provide free Wi-Fi.  Buses will arrive every 3 minutes during peak hours, and every 5 minutes during non-peak hours.

Sources said the PDA had paid Rs450 million to the Pakistan Railways for acquiring land and using its space at four different locations. The PDA would pay an additional amount of Rs120 million to the railways for putting up the elevated track.  PDA also purchased around 30 canals of land from the cantonment board at the largest rate of RS1.2billion, 300 million had been paid to the board, on the other hand, PDA will pay RS1.8 billion to the Wapda, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited for relocating their installations.