Public transport woes

Some ten-twelve years ago, the public transport department decided to allow a new form of bus service, the “coach”. The fares started at Rs. 5 and people actually used to sit in these vehicles. Standing was not permitted.
Time passed by and these too became like the other large and mini buses. The fares however, remained higher by almost Rs. 5 at all times.

Then came the Metro bus. Nice, clean and top of it all, air conditioned. Paying a few rupees higher than the coach fare was actually worth it, when you had a good seat and well behaved conductors that actually issued tickets.

Then came the green buses, both chinese and swedish. Soon more private route managers stepped in.

The metros started disappearing. The ACs came out. Buses started getting damaged and no one bothered about what they looked like any more. Their demise had started. They are no more the metro that they used to be. The swedish buses soon left the scene too.

Whatever buses are left, are just the same as they used to be ages ago, before any other bus network came in.

Taxis and rickshaws are still off the meters and the karachi mass transit scheme is no where in sight. Till that time, streets will continue to get more and more crowded, the air more polluted and traffic jams as irritating as they can possibly ever be.

Can we ever get some decent public transport here? Is anyone listening??

25 Comments so far

  1. Ramla A. (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 12:58 am

    You’ve spoken my mind, Inspirex! It’s now virtually impossible to move about in this city without a car – as public transport is either unavailable or too steeply priced in the case of rickshaws and taxis.

    So the formula seems to be, one person: 1 car. Imagine the environmental cost! Anyone who breathes in karachi day and night can understand what poor quality the air has.

  2. Noman (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 2:06 am

    How about CNG ?? I have heard now most cars come up with it ? Doesn’t it help ??? In Karachi, we do not have concept of car pooling by now I guess , I am sure it would help a lot. Can we introduce this culture, can we make a web site where people could post their scheduels and can match each other. Would be cost effective as well as environment friendly.I just could not understand how many people go to their offices in car by their selves and ignore all people standing at bus stops(you must have very strong heart for that). If you give a ride to some one , it would not cost you any thing virtually but you could give some one good evening or good beginning of the day. Please try to make a difference in some one’s life.

  3. Ramla A. (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 2:38 am


    I have read many comments from you – and there is one thing that I must say before we go on: it is good when you give suggestion. It is not appropriate when you make assumptions, and get personal.

    It seems to me that it’s been quite some time since you last visited Karachi and really lived here. Number 1, car pools and bike pools are not unheard of here. However, if I have to go shopping to Tariq Road, it will be irrational to go to a bus stop and negotiate travel routes with strangers. Number 2, have you really checked on the rate of crime in Karachi lately, and the dangers of lifting strangers off the stop?

    And BTW, while this may seem perfectly normal in a university town/setting (where you are), no metro/cosmo city has this culture. Where you don’t know people, you don’t pick them off the street. It’s not insensitivity, it’s good sense. And that’s why we are asking for a better transport system.

    The online schedule thing is a perfectly reasonable suggestion, on the other hand. Since you are educated in IT and interested in public welfare, let me give you a bit of direction: how about you take up this project? Make a website where people can set up pools and share them with their friends and family?

    Now THAT can be a productive contribution! And if you are not ready, just tell us, and we will understand. But if you are, by all means shoo away my cynicism and go ahead with this project. You are welcome to make a difference in someone else’s life!

  4. xia (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 5:04 am

    hehehe Ramla have basically shut him up. The Annual Smack of the year award goes to Ramla A. hehehe

    I used to take 2D, 7C, 2K all the time. Those were good old days. I can only imagine how huge this problem is in Karachi. Especially when big daddy mushi comes and visit.

    I have nothing else to say. I only wanted to appriciate Ramla’s reply … sorry.

    ~Karachi- Love it or Leave it~

  5. sarah (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 5:48 am

    car pools and any other kinds of pools works only if u know the person very very very well, even if u do the car pooling thing, I think no one have that much patient to drop or pickup people,OR search through websites for the schedules coz many don’t have internet !!! :))

  6. Inspirex (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 6:25 am

    lol…i so felt the buses missing from my life after i moved to my present address.

    i was an ardent lover of 2D and its speed, next in line came the 5C and then the 4K and 4M, the routes of which i always mixed up (i still dont remember xactly, both go from tower to and back too, but use different routes:D)

    and the worst was 6, snails pace.

    @Noman, following up on Ramla’s comment: CNG is the predominant fuel now in pakistan unless you have a diesel car to start off with OR you have a high end car (the Civics and City’s have yet to adapt to this, Corollas already have). Bikes have started using CNG too actually.

    The consumption of CNG has pushed down the demand for petrol, so much so that that during the last fiscal, we exported almost 1 million litres. imagine the things you could do with that amount of fuel!

    Having your own car (or bike) is actually cost efficient in terms of the number of KMs one needs to travel in a day, not as compared to buses, unless you put comfort into the equation.

  7. zeeshan (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 8:06 am

    Bikes also are using CNG !!!!
    i am away from karachi for almost 1.5 year now…i thinks by the time i will be back to ma city it would totaly be a different from the one that i left.
    any ways good or bad i love my karachi……

    @ xia
    i miss all those 5D ,7C ,2D ,W11 ,W21 man
    karachi is karachi

  8. ASAD (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 8:17 am

    We need more pictures!!! Guys!!

  9. xia (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 5:43 pm

    aahhh 5c. which always failed to stop right before water pump so that I could get to Haji. Sometimes they took us all the way around the round about (used to be).

    What is the rate these days? During my early years, the rates were

    Rs. 60 for student
    Rs. 1.20 for the lowest

    About 3 years ago, I just took 2D for the heck of it and went all the way to alnoor. I was charged around Rs. 4.80

  10. Sarwar (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

    Washington DC has a thriving practice of giving/getting rides, and it is far from a small university town. Here is the website to get more information on it.

    When I was in Karachi (years ago), I was open to giving rides. Usually they approach you when you are stopped at a traffic light. In those days, you could drive with your windows open and doors unlocked. Not anymore. The ones who would not get a ride come hell or high water were the ones that tried to attract your attention by going “SSSSTT”!! Shanks pony for you buddy!

  11. Noman (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 12:01 am

    @Xia: I am happy that you are having nice time here :-)

    Inspirex: Did we really export 1 m liters ??? Could you please check your numbers and provide us the web link. Are you talking about mustard oil or petrol ?? 1 m liter is nothing, do you know how much boeing cosume in one hour flight ?

    @Sarah: I understand your concerns but patience is a good virtue. Most of the people now have access to internet atleast in big cities directly or indiretcly.

    @Ramla: I never get personal but still you think then I would keep an eye on it.

    Stanford is not a unievrsity town. Its between San Francisco and San Jose. The Whole bay area !!!
    I have mostly lived here or in Chicago and they by no mean are university towns. In university town , no one needs car pooling because you never face parking issues nor traffic problems. Its always the problem for big cosmos cities. Here gas is comparatively cheap so no one does car pooling for saving money on gas. I have seen 30$ for parking in SF downtown and 15$ in Chicago downtown and if it does not overwhelm you then just calculate how much you would be paying in one month.

    When I put an idea of car pooling, I never had an intention of going to bus stop and negotiating paths with strangers. What I had in mind that you go online and search for timings/detinations matching to yours and then you could talk with him/her and make a deal. It should be on weakly/monthly process.

    How about metro trains ? I read last year they were putting them in Karchi??? Any progress ??? I love trains; smooth , fast, reliable.

    I would love to work on the idea of web system for car-pooling but I am not a web guy. I am into system engineering and it would take a lot of time of me to write web system, not worth of my time at all. Any how I am OOO for next week so you people could have more fun :-). I would try to get one of my man to work on web system for car pooling.

  12. Ali (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 12:52 am

    hI I am a web guy and too add experience a bit of barham ;) .. i work in Intel corp, UK .. but i need some assistance along in this project, someone who is determined to develop karachi :)

    koiiii haaaiiiii????

  13. Noman (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 1:34 am

    To add my bharams , I got interview call couple of months ago from Intel recruiter, US and I did not even bother to answer her. Just Kidding :-) My company works very closely with Intel even we share our source code with them. For last few months I was surprised to see so many Bangladeshis in local Mosque and reason was that Intel hires from UT Austin lots of guys and Bangaldsesh Institute of Tech is siter uni of UT Austin so lots of them get into their VLSI Program directly. I wish Paksitani unis could do that too :-(

  14. Ali (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 2:21 am

    Only thing they can do is is to open colleges like LSE (Lahore School of Economics) which orignally is London school of economics!!!

  15. darthvader (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 2:38 am

    i dont care what anyone says , 2K was the best bus ever .

  16. Ramla A. (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 3:06 am

    Ali, you serious?

    Write to me!

  17. KT (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 4:04 am

    GOOD old days……SAFARI COACH…man I have some found memories of that monster. From Defence to NED Univ. at the speed of light. Never had any issues..always on time..of yeah just 3 or max 5 times in 4 yrs…i had to cling on to the Coach door like spider man, with one foot on the foot-board…lol..i almost fell off twice! YEA YEA..i could have taken the next one…but what if SHE was in this one?

  18. Shiraz (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 5:46 am

    Hey Ali I would help you with the the project, but am not good with programming of any type or software issues, instead am more on the hardware and support side of things…well good luck to you if you take on this matter.

  19. Saadie (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 10:46 am

    gone off topic a bit, anyhow its pretty sad that couple of years back I actually thought that standard of public transport here in Karachi would be of high quality but suddenly it felt apart. Not able to maintain a certain level of quality seems to be part of our infrastructure. Btw Ali what kind of project you are thinking on?

  20. Ali (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 2:14 pm

    Hi yeh i am interested and ready … contact me on if you want to join the team ..

    or may be we can set some sort of team ;)

    High hopes as ever!!!

  21. Kashif Aziz (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 2:57 pm

    @Ali: I am interested too.

  22. Kaash (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 8:51 pm

    Great job Inspirex on social commentary about Karachi’s ever growing traffic situation. I’ve been out of the city for past 13 years but sounds like nothing has been changed. Some of the comments brought back memories of 2D, 2K, D7,G3, U4 AND X20–>The Dada Express…been there done that..
    @Ramla—> you had read my mind as well, issay kehtay hain shaal main joota.

  23. Ali (unregistered) on February 8th, 2006 @ 11:38 pm

    No emails yet … bhailog jagooo!!! ;)

    wats the plan?

  24. SKETCHER (unregistered) on February 9th, 2006 @ 1:04 am

    Inspirex has a good question. When I was in karachi I used to think why does karachi have to start a new transport system every now and then which never works or dosent get maintained in the long run.

    My Father used to tell me of Local train that they would take from Malir cantt and it would take them to CITY station SADDAR while stopping at various points in the city.

    In my opinion starting just local trains again on existing tracks would be the best start. Instead of expensive Mass transit metro kind of solutions.

  25. Inspirex (unregistered) on February 9th, 2006 @ 8:07 am

    I saw the figure on a Corporate Newsletter by Parco, im not sure if its online, you can contact Amir Abbasi at Parco Corporate Communications and then find out yourself. Feel free to quote my reference.

    I personally dont think 1m litres is too much either, which is also one of the reasons why there is no noise over a new found export commodity.

    A typical Boeing 747-ER consumes 17-18 litres per km when fully loaded at 412 tons. Not to mention it carries over 500 persons. So its way more economical then any car in terms of average consumption per km per person.

    You also have to take into account the version of the Bowing 747 itself, cos they have a huge series and multiple engine combinations. I used the 747 because its a classic.

    I also somehow feel the need to mention here that jet engines DO NOT run on petrol.
    (Petrol here means 90 Octane, unleaded motor gasoline).

    Thanks a million buddy:)
    i somehow think the W11 is still the king of karaci’s roads (havent been on an X20 though..)

    @Sketcher: I know! my mum n dad keep talking about the trams too. The circular railway has been revived, and takes you from City Station to Malir in Rs. 10. Very few ppl use it because of the lack of stops. (City Station, Malir & Drigh Road if im not Wrong). Sadly saddar is no more on the route.:(

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