Green Line bus service gets ready to hit the road

Green Line bus service gets ready to hit the road

Green Line bus service gets ready to hit the road

Karachi’s Green Line buses. Photo: Radio Pakistan


KARACHI: The Green Line bus rapid transit project is part of a grand scheme to give the city of Karachi a decent mass transit service. The project, launched in 2016 when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz ruled in the centre, was officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Dec 10. However, a parallel ‘launch’ was also organised a day earlier when PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal and other party workers showed up at a Green Line station, only to be met by security men.

Karachi’s population is officially 15 million but politicians and urban experts claim that at least 25m people live here, deprived of a proper mass transit system for decades.

Irshad Hussain Bukhari, who heads the Karachi Transport Ittehad, a trade body of transporters, claimed that only 5,000 public buses are plying on the roads of Karachi. Reportedly, ever since the issues of ethnic violence that erupted in the city in 1986, more than 20,000 buses were either burnt or turned into trucks.

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While the Green Line project has been launched to address Karachi’s chronic transport problem, the scheme has also been politicised, as was witnessed during the official launching ceremony. However for commuters, all that really matters is a working public transport system.


Commuters’ aspirations

“I wish the project would run and not become a victim of the political rivalry of PPP, MQM, and PTI”, said Abdul Latif, a resident of Nagan Chowrangi. “We do not want three-wheeler rickshaws anymore on the streets of Karachi. The Green Line bus service and other [such projects are] the need of the hour as the transport system of Karachi is on the brink of collapse.”

Midhat Fatima, who works at I.I. Chundrigar Road and is a resident of Surjani Town, told Bol News that the new transport project will also end the issue of harassment. “We face harassment on a daily basis in the public buses as well as in Qingqi rickshaws.”

She further said that many residents cannot afford private taxis or rickshaws on a daily basis. “We already spend 25 per cent of [our budget] on traveling.”



Karachi Breeze project

The federal and Sindh governments had initiated the Karachi Breeze project in which Green, Red, Blue, Orange and Yellow rapid transit lines would be made operational to deal with Karachi’s public transport problem.

The Sindh government will reportedly launch the Red Line bus project at a cost of Rs78 billion which will run from Model Colony, Airport, Safoora Chowrangi, and University Road to Numaish Chowrangi. At a distance of 29km, there will be 24 stations and 213 buses will run.

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Buses on the Blue Line route will run from Al-Asif Square (Sohrab Goth) to Gurumandir covering a distance of 10km. The Orange Line will run from Orangi Town to Jinnah University (Board of Secondary Education office).

The Orange Line project was inaugurated by former chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah. The track for the project has been laid but the scheme is still inactive. However, Sindh Transport Minister Awais Qadir Shah claims that money has been given for the purchase of buses.

The Yellow Line route will start from Landhi and will pass through FTC and Regal Chowk and reach the Parking Plaza in Saddar. Out of all these projects, the Green Line is the first to be inaugurated and will be open for public ridership from December 25.

The 22km-long Green Line connects District Central with the city’s commercial hub in District South. It will help commuters reach their destination in 45 minutes on the signal-free dedicated track, while during rush hour it can take commuters up to one hour and 30 minutes to reach Saddar from Surjani Town using other modes of transport.


The Green Line BRT                           


The Green Line service that stretches from Surjani Town to Gurumandir roundabout in the first phase is expected to serve thousands of people as most people work in District South. It has 21 stations while the state-of-the-art dedicated corridor has already been constructed in those areas.

It is the city’s first BRT project that was supposed to be up and running by April 2017 if all had gone according to plan. The initial estimated cost of the project was Rs16bn but has now crossed Rs24bn.

According to the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited (SIDCL), the corridor is 12.7km elevated and 9.3km at grade along with bus depot and buildings.

Work on the Rs16.85bn federal government-funded bus project had begun after then prime minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated it in February 2016 by performing the groundbreaking.

Later, the project was extended by another 10km as initially sought by the Sindh government and the estimated cost exceeded Rs24bn.


The project was estimated to be completed by the end of 2017 but the deadlines kept getting pushed forward. Since the launch of the scheme, the battered roads on either side of the route have created nuisance for commuters and for the shopkeepers doing business along the route.

The second consignment of 40 buses for the Green Line project arrived in the city on October 21. This raised the number of buses to 80 and gave citizens hope that the BRT system in the metropolis was nearing its launch. It is supposed to facilitate the travel of approximately 300,000 passengers daily.


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