September 19, 2008

Speakers Call for Encouraging Bus Service in Cities in Pakistan

LAHORE: The government must promote and improve urban bus service to discourage the use of cars in cities as it will help resolve the grave traffic problems.

Speakers expressed these views at a seminar on Sustainable Urban Development and Transportation jointly organised by The Urban Unit of Planning and Development Department, Punjab, and Clinton Foundation here at CM Secretariat on Thursday.

They stressed the need for provision of equal rights to citizens of all the cities with regards to traffic facilities, adding that government must ensure separate lane for buses while constructing the new roads, besides encouraging the cycling system in the cities.

They apprehended that there would be grave traffic jams everywhere in Lahore by year 2015, if its road network was not improved, adding that people should be encouraged to travel in buses, which would not only help resolve traffic problems but also improve their living standard.

They suggested that public-private partnership should be encouraged to put in order the new transport system.

Former Mayor of Bogota, Enrique Penalosa and the Institute of Transportation and Development Project (ITDP) Senior Director Oscar Diaz gave detailed lectures through feature films about transport system of various countries.

The chief guest Penalosa observed, “We cannot term a city with large number of vehicles as a model city but the city where a child can travel on his bicycle easily and safely.”

In this connection, he said, the government would have to 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 service to people so they cannot feel any hesitation while traveling in the public transport, he added.

Oscar Diaz said that separate lanes for buses on all the roads are necessary to successfully run the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT). There should be affordable fares and everyone must have an easy access to bus stations, he said, citing that 1.4 million people travel every day under BRT system in Bogota, while only 21 percent use cars.

The speakers also stressed the need for transforming the society on modern technological and scientific grounds, which would guarantee a prosperous world.

Later, talking to reporters the Chairman of CM’s Task Force on Transport Development, Tasneem Noorani stressed the need for setting up of a department with sole purpose to run the public transport.

He said the Force was assessing all the transport-related problems and formulating strategies accordingly.

Noorani said the Task Force would work on the new transport system as suggested by the speakers and then submit it to the Chief Minister for approval.

Senior Traffic Police officers and other experts addressed the seminar, which was attended by a large number of people hailing from different walks of life.

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Speakers Call for Encourageing Bus Service in Cities

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