The MetroBus was one of the earlier public transport revamps that the city witnessed. It came after the ‘coach’ services that were supposed to replace the aging and hopeless ‘mini buses’ but instead become a dreaded class of their own. When Metrobuses first appeared almost over a decade ago, they quickly become the first choice for office-goers in Karachi that must use the public transport.
In their initial days, the buses sported a uniformed pair of driver and the ticket collecting conductor. The catch phrase for the new service at that time was, as we all remember, ‘seat-by-seat’. The vehicles used to be air-conditioned and the new, simple but attractive color scheme (in the back-drop of the multi-colored, ‘chamak patti’ ridden minibuses) was an immediate hit with the people who wanted to pay a few extra rupee for a sensible ride to their workplaces.
But things changed fast. The rising city population and the persistent absence of a much needed mass transit system of any kind, the business heads behind these buses, apparently, realized it early on that with the existing demand of a moving vehicle (let alone a ‘service’), these ‘attraction overheads’ are actually not needed. First, the make-shift seats appeared in the middle passage. The air-conditioners went faulty and were never repaired. The color of the vehicle and the dents and damages attracted over time were conserved as a memorable collectible lot. The uniforms were gone and the air-gymnastic conductor of the minibus found their way into the supposed saner Metrobus.
Today, the sight of a Metrobus on the roads of Karachi remains a painful reminder of how subsequent transport revamping schemes for this mega-city has failed and how difficult it remains for the general public to reach their workplace for an affordable cost in a reasonable way.