LAHORE: The Lahore Transport Company (LTC) has failed to procure 1,500 buses for public transport due to the non-availability of funds.
Sources in the Punjab Transport Department informed this scribe that the company was established in 2009 with the aim of planning and facilitating a high quality, safe, efficient, environment-friendly and affordable urban transport in the provincial capital. During 2017, the number of buses decreased and then gradually the buses disappeared during 2019 and finally, the service closed entirely.
The buses used to offer a transport option to people at subsidised rates and due to the closure of the service, those who used to travel using these buses frequently are suffering and many people have lost their jobs.
The service was being provided on almost 19 urban routes, however, due to the negligence of officials, the company failed to renew the agreements with service operators and blamed international investors for withdrawing their investment and causing the company to stop its operations.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, LTC Chief Operating Officer (COO) Zafar Qureshi said that initially they had procured 300 buses and a total of 262 buses were inducted in the provincial capital. “We gave a proposal to the government back in 2014 in which we proposed almost 300 urban routes along with our demands. Back then, a number of local and foreign investors were interested in our work as we received more than 800 proposals of interests from different investors,” he said.
He also said that they had been demanding buses for three years because they were providing subsidy-based service. “We provide the subsidised service on our routes from morning to evening and even if the flow of passengers remains low, we do not stop the service,” he added.
“Every year we send our demand for buses to the government but it depends on the government to allocate the funds in given resources. We can only give the subsidy on the basis of government grants. If the government approves the proposal then we will be able to get new buses,” he maintained.
He also said that they matured the contract again with investors in November 2019 and they also proposed different models to the government like green fuel buses, CNG and electric buses.
Qureshi said that the present government is also taking interest in restoring the service, “Our proposal is now with Adviser to Chief Minister on Economic Affairs and Planning Dr Salman Shah and we are on approval stage because the government is also interested in continuing this service.
“We have demanded 350 buses in Lahore on an urgent basis otherwise, our demand is of 1,500 buses which can meet the need of the city,” Qureshi added.
He also said that they had the agreements (which have since expired) with the local and foreign transporter companies and service providers. The local companies were First Bus and Awais Travels and some of the foreign Turkish companies were also providing the service.