By Affan Hayat
Whether it’s the metrobus or a taxi, a rickshaw or a wagon – all of these public transport operators have their own benefits and challenges. Let’s take a look at some of these. Which do you reckon is the best public transport service in Pakistan? Let us know in the comments below.
If one bus passes, another is bound to come. That’s the saying we’ve all heard. Buses in Pakistan are one of the most popular form of public transportation. Every city has its own bus service. While using buses is economical, however it’s usually hard finding a seat when traveling during peak hours. Moreover buses aren’t the most reliable when in a hurry as most operators are not time efficient. Nevertheless buses hold the biggest percentage in the public transport sector in Pakistan.
An alternate to buses due to cheaper tickets is the wagon service. While wagons are infamous due to the carelessness and over-speeding of drivers, still it’s a widely popular form of public transportation. Tickets are cheap and you’ll get to your stop much faster than on any other automobile. However wagons are also jam packed and you’ll end up being squished into the seats with other passengers as the conductor yells out for even more costumers.
The metro buses operate in a few major cities in Pakistan. You’ll find them in Lahore and Islamabad and even in Peshawar and Karachi (although the latter two are still under construction). The positives of metro buses is that they are air conditioned which is a blessing in the summer heat. However inversely this also means that they are often over crowded. Besides this hurdle, a benefit of the metro bus system is that they offer a flat rate no matter where you get off. This makes for the cheapest way to cover very long distances in the city. Unfortunately the metro bus only operates in a few cities at the moment.
This is another very popular transport service in not just Pakistan but all of Asia. Rickshaw users don’t have to share their ride with strangers and they can be dropped off at their exact destination as opposed to a public bus stop. Fares can also be negotiated with rickshaw drivers which is very helpful if you’re looking to save money but don’t want to use the bus. Rickshaws are the most popular service in Pakistan and undoubtedly one of the best public transport service for individuals.
Taxi operators in Pakistan are very few. Taxis are more likely to be found in Islamabad and Karachi and the northern regions. In places like Lahore you’ll only see taxis at the railway station and even those lose out majority of their customers to rickshaws. Taxis give you the benefit of larger space which is convenient if you’re carrying luggage. However they are also relatively more expensive which makes them less likely to attract a lot of customers. In northern tourist areas taxis are the only option for transport.
These are an open air form of rickshaws. However when travelling in Chin-Chees you’ll be travelling with others. Transport sharing makes using chin-chees affordable and extremely cheap. However the drawback is perhaps the lack of safety and being exposed to the elements. Whether it’s hot or raining, you’ll have no shade or shelter when on a chin-chee. Nevertheless the cheap fares make it a highly popular service in cities across Pakistan, especially in non-metropolitan regions.
Online Ride Services
The newest form of transportation available for the public. Although ride hailing services are private nevertheless anyone can access them as long as you have internet and a smartphone device. Rides can be in the form of a bike, a small car or even a luxury automobile. Prices are also relatively cheap when considering the advantages provided. However if you don’t have internet access or a smartphone then you’ll be out of luck.
Private cab services operate in all major cities. You’ll usually find these at airports and a few train stations. The cabs are luxury cars which makes the service suitable for only high-end customers. However the service is still widely used even by middle class travelers when traveling to and from airports as it’s reliable, safe and ensures easy access to the highly secured airport departure drop off.
This will be a new form of public transportation service in Pakistan. The orange line in Lahore will be the first train service for travel within a city. Although it’s uncertain when the train will start operating but nevertheless the service is bound to provide the public with an alternative to the metro and local bus.
Which service do you think is the most feasible in Pakistan. Let us know in the comments below.