Metro Bus Service - A Precious Gift for People

December 30th, 2012
Those interested in observing the realization of a sweet dream, actualization of an imagination, completion of wish, formation of a commitment, formulation of an illusion, rising of a spirit, naturalization of a miracle, defeating an unbeatable and completion of a mission impossible, they must spare some time to watch the historical “Metro Bus System” in Lahore. It will make them the eye witness of a revolutionary process, resulting into removal of the shadows of the depression over the oppressed via minimizing the distances of the progress and hence alleviation of the poverty.      
In spite of the hullaballoo and baseless propaganda over this Project, the Punjab government has almost completed it but at the minimum possible cost, in the minimum possible span of time. This innovation, no doubt, will improve the lifestyle of the people of Lahore and restore their self-respect and hence will prove the path way for a social & economic revolution in the city.
Having an ancient history of over three thousand years, Lahore, the second largest city of Pakistan with a population of around 10 million, has remained the focal point of the attention of  almost all the rulers & governments, but none of them could ever decide to leave his personal interests and try to  focus the projects of the public welfare. Some of them to name here are Mughal Emperors like Akbar, Shahjehan and Aurangzeb who completed some historical projects like Lahore Fort, Shalamar Garden and Badshahi Mosque in this city having, unfortunately, the least concern over the lives of the people. Whereas CM Shahbaz Sharif`s Metro Bus System is the project of the restoration of the ego of over 10 million people, benefitting them in quite a unique manner. This is ever first example of its kind in the sub-continent which will open the new horizons of the prosperity and progress for the people as a worth following milestone in the public transport.
The visionary Chief Minister of Punjab decided to launch an organized & modern system, having no substitute not only in the country but the whole South Asia, with an aim to provide a dignified, comfortable & safe transport to the millions of the citizens who were badly annoyed of overcrowded wagons, busses and uncomfortable n expensive Rikshaws. This system will smoothly address the problem and will ensures mobility besides providing easy access to masses, supporting urban life and making the city livable. Though the volume, prolonged period and other hurdles like the noise against the issue is politically-motivated, aimed at creating misconceptions as were created against Pakistan Movement, Kalabagh Dam and history Motorway Project etc. But it`s the vision and will power which convert such dreams into realities.
It`s neither the part of a dream history nor the story of an advanced country like China or Japan, but is the matter of a few months behind when a delegation from the brother country Turkey visited on the invitation of the CM Shahbaz Sharif, to start the movement of the development and prosperity from the city from where the movement for independent started.   
Who says that the miracles won`t happen in this age? MBS has proved that nothing is impossible in this world applying condition of sincerity of the leadership with the cause of serving their people. It`s worth mentioning here that the Punjab government has taken special care of the transparency and quality both, in this project too, like all of its other initiatives and has ensured each n every penny of the public funds to be utilized just for the public welfare. 
Astonishingly the 27 km-long first phase of the landmark project, from Gajjumatta to Shahdra, is going to complete with a minimum cost of around Rs 30 billion, an amount 11 times less than the underground project as planned by previous provincial Government. The early completion of the first phase within a shortest span of just 10 months is going to beat the record of even its mother country Turkey where 42 km of Metro System took 3 years to complete. 
It is worth mentioning that the feasibility study of the underground, Lahore Rapid Mass Transit System (LRMTS), as suggested by the previous provincial government, estimated the cost of Rs 250 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 MBS which is easy to supervise, maintain & repair when necessary. It must be kept in mind that this project has got a compatible capacity for future expansion n extension when required, in addition to benefit of its durable n strong infrastructure which may be utilized for even Trains in future, if opted so.
TEPA, Transport Engineering & Planning Agency of Lahore Development has been granted the responsibility of the completion for the construction work which has divided the project into 8 parts, assigned to different contractors, to expedite the speed and hence to accomplish the task at the earliest. To ascertain this objective, three shifts are managed for 24 hours workability and the job continued, even during Eid holidays, resulting in realization of a dream well in time.  
The project includes the construction of a 8.6 km long overhead bridge, the biggest in length in the whole Asia, to ensure the easy n fast flow of traffic on the already existing ground roads in the region. Pre cost Tranzums i.e., pre-fabricated parts of the bridge are utilized for the first time in Pakistan. 48 such units are raised from Tamasil Centre Ferozepur road to Nohar Wala Chowk, Lytton Road. Each unit weigh 90 Tons and is 9.8 m long, 2.7 m wide and 2.2 m high which are placed on the upper edges of the 5 meter high pillars prepared for the bridge. The girders and the slabs are placed over to complete the bridge completion, without any shuttering material. These pre cost units are fabricated in a Nespak approved factory on Multan Road. From where these are shifted to the site and placed accordingly, with help of heavy lifters.
115 long buses, having three times more capacity than the normal bus does have, will be running on the MBS corridors shortly, out of which 45 buses have already reached Lahore, after these landed in Karachi from China. These Volvo China buses will cost Rs 1.26 billion @ 280 million each. Keeping in mind the local Traffic System, these buses are converted into right steering ones. Each bus is 18 meters in length with 150 passengers` capacity, having separate compartments for ladies & gents. MBS bus will cover the 27 km distance from Gajjumatta to Shahdara within just 45 minutes which seems quite impossible under prevailing system of congested traffic in the city. The design speed of Metro bus is 40 kilometers per hour. The time table for these modern busses is framed  in such a way that the new bus will be available at each station after every 3 minutes. Metro bus will carry 8000 passengers per hour and hence will be able to transfer atleast one lac persons in 14 working hours per day.
The latest ticketing system is also being introduced at each Metro station, along with other necessary facilities for the passengers. Another important feature of the project is the construction of 32 overhead bridges, one at every kilometer of the main carraige way in average, for the pedestrians. The bridges are accomplished with automatic staircases to faciliate the passengers. Eleven parking places have also been included with the MBS corridor, to facilitate the parking of the public vehicles of the passengers, who opt to reach MBS station on their own vehicles to travel on a Metro bus for a long distance.
To take care of the public interests, Punjab government has made the payments to the private owners of the land utilized for the project on district Price Assessment Committee Rates, as per law n rules. Rs 1.80 billion has been already provided to the Land Acquisition Collector. A three days special One Window Camp was arranged from 20th to 22nd December 2010 in Jinnah Hall Lahore, to ensure these payments to the owners the owners of the land acquired, on the instructions of the Chief Minister of Punjab. All conderned officials including from Revenue remained present in the camp with the necessary record and the payments were made through cheques to the relevant perons.
Another important factor of implementation of the project is that it also maximizes economic benefits of the people, in shape of many employment opportunities already generated in construction phase which will be increased to many times during operational stages, hence will serve affluently to the poor n unemployed people when hundreds of the people will be need as bus staff, security staff, in control rooms and other places of the route. Thousands of the people are also being employed for the new traffic n security agencies meant for the project. Most of them will be recruited out of retired service men. These newly appointed persons will be trained in Elite Training School in a special manner.
It`s also ensured for the public interests that the fare of the travelling by Metro System should remain within the reach of a common n average income person. Four days free journey will be offered for the Lahoris  up to 4 weeks after inauguration. Six Turkish Drivers have reached Lahore to train the local drivers to run the distinct project of the city. 
MBS is, no doubt, a matter of pride for the millions of citizens of Lahore and for coming generations too. It will be the only unique 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 and an ordinary person will be granted with a VIP Protocol through Air Conditioning Travelling from one part of the city to the other.
Metro Bus Project will change the lives of the ordinary people who may rush towards their work places in the minimum possible time and hence will be able to perform well and, of course, more efficiently. This initiative will, therefore bring a social and economic revolution for both the city as well as the citizens. The persons reaching Lahore for their earning jobs and business activities etc or those going outside the city on daily basis, may enjoy the benefits of the rapid travelling equally and hence will this project is not only meant for people but will also provide the modern journey to the inhabitants of nearby cities.     
In short, we should keep in mind that the MBS 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 provincial government deserves the credit for being the first in Pakistan for inception of the new concept of public transport, a first step towards modern town planning and urban development.