The free ride is over: MBS flat fare Rs20 from Sunday
LAHORE, Feb 14: The free ride on the Metro Bus Service (MBS) is going to be over from Sunday.
Passengers on the 27-kilometre long route will be charged Rs20 each as a single fixed fare, according to a transport official privy to a meeting (that decided the fare) held on Thursday.
The meeting was attended by PML-N leaders and officials of the Lahore Transport Company, the Punjab Metro Bus Authority, the Transport Department and Platform (a Turkish firm).
Earlier, at the launch of the much-trumpeted bus service, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had announced amid applauses on Feb 10 that the passengers would enjoy free ride for a month.
The bus attracted huge rush resulting in overloading, damage to buses, long queues of passengers at stops and complaints of non-availability of buses. Some government and public quarters see the huge rush stemming from no-fare policy.
“The decision will help streamline the bus service and facilitate genuine passengers,” LTC Chairman Khwaja Ahmad Hassan told Dawn.
He said the authorities would issue tickets manually to passengers in the beginning. Automated ticketing will be introduced at some later stages, he said.
“Before getting passengers to automated ticketing, we will make the entire system operative,” Mr Hassan added. He said women seats would be reserved in the front compartment of the buses. He added that each metro bus would have a police official for the security of passengers.
Mr Hassan said as the flat fare structure might not be viable for Platform, the Turkish company entrusted with running the service, and the service would be subsidized.
“London authorities spend £4 million a month on the city transport sector to offer a subsidized fare to the public. We will also ensure subsidized fare in metro buses,” he said.
Thursday was yet another nightmare for MBS passengers as they had to suffer delays for hours on different points because of huge rush in buses.
“I’ve been waiting for a bus for the last 20 minutes,” said Amanat at Kalma Chowk stop.
“As soon as a bus stops, a few get off it while dozens push and jostle to get on it,” he said.
A woman passenger said males had occupied lanes and seats. Police officials deployed at stations were seen making separate queues for males and females.
“It is very difficult to deal with the passengers as they quarrel with us whenever we ask them for making queues,” Ansar, a police official, said. “Yesterday we caught two people pick pocketing and handed them over to Naseerabad Police,” Ansar added. He said the Lahore Mujahid Police Chief was also traveling in metro buses time to time in order to check security of the passengers as well as buses.