September 19, 2008

‘Govt Must Improve Urban Bus Services to Resolve Traffic Issues in Pakistan’

* Speakers claim city will face ‘grave’ traffic issues by 2015
* Former mayor of Colombian town says raising taxes will discourage cars
* CM Task Force (Transport Development) Chairman Tasneem Noorani stresses need for separate department to run public transport

LAHORE: The government must promote and improve urban bus services to discourage the use of cars in cities, as it will help resolve traffic problems currently faced by commuters, according to speakers at a seminar on ‘Sustainable Urban Development and Transportation’.

Jointly organised by The Urban Unit of the Planning and Development Department and the Clinton Foundation at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat on Thursday, the speakers at the seminar stressed the need for the provision of equal rights to citizens of all cities with regard to traffic facilities. The government must ensure separate lanes for buses while constructing new roads, they said, adding that bicyclists should be encouraged in cities.

Claim: The speakers claimed that there would be grave traffic jams across the city by 2015 if its infrastructure were not radically improved, adding that the masses should be encouraged to travel by bus.

Former mayor of Bogota and renowned urban strategist Enrique Penalosa and United States Institute of Transportation and Development Project (ITDP) Senior Director Oscar Diaz provided detailed lectures through feature films about the transport systems of various countries.

The chief guest, Penalosa said, “We cannot term a city with numerous vehicles as a model city but the city. Such a city is one where a child can travel on his bicycle easily and safely.”

Taxes: In this connection, he said, the government should construct separate routes for cyclists and pedestrians, and would have to discourage the use of cars by raising their taxes. The government must take measures to provide better air-conditioned bus services to the masses so that they do not hesitate while travelling on them, he added. Oscar Diaz said that separate lanes for buses on all roads were necessary to successfully run the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT). The fares should be easily affordable and everyone must have easy access to the bus stations, he said, citing that 1.4 million people travel under the BRT system everyday in Bogota, while only 21 percent use personal cars.

Separate: While talking to reporters, CM Task Force (Transport Development) Chairman Tasneem Noorani stressed the need to establish a separate department to run public transport.

He said the task force would work on the new transport system as suggested by the speakers at the seminar and submit a proposal to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for approval.

Senior traffic police officials and other experts also addressed the seminar, which was attended by a large number of people hailing from different walks of life. app/staff report

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‘Govt Must Improve Urban Bus Services to Resolve Traffic Issues’

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