■Employees of Metro Bus Service line up buses at Kalma Chowk in Lahore
■Employees of Metro Bus Service line up buses at Kalma Chowk in Lahore. The revised bus fare will be implemented with effect from today in three major cities.. Image Credit: Online

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has raised fare for the intra-city transport service Metro Bus in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan by Rs10 (23 fils) from the current Rs20.

The decision will be implemented on Friday.

Metro bus was the flagship project of the former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government and had earned the party huge support in the 2013 elections. Even in 2018 elections, PML-N referred to Metro Bus Service that proved a safe, comfortable means of travelling from one part of the city to the other.

Opposition parties including the PTI had however, criticised the intra-city public transport service terming it a white elephant and a burden on public exchequer.

According to a notification issued by the Punjab government on Wednesday, the fare of the Metro Bus has been revised and will be implemented with effect from Friday.

A senior official of the Punjab Mass Transit Authority (PMA) told Gulf News Thursday the authority had received the government notification to increase Metro Bus fares in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan.

The provincial government had already indicated increase in the fare of Metro bus and, a month ago, the provincial secretary, Finance, had issued a written direction to increase Metro Bus fare by Rs10 but its implementation delayed owing to absence of a proper notification in this regard.

Now a copy of the notification has been sent to all metro bus stations for its implementation, the official said.

The decision to increase the fare was made after the price of petroleum products rose in the last few months and the fare needed to be increased so that the government subsidy for the service could remain the same, the official said.

“After coming into power in 2018, the PTI-led Punjab government wanted to increase the metro bus service fare to end the subsidy given to the PMA to keep the fare at Rs20 per person,” said another senior PMA official.

The provincial government was providing the PMA Rs1.9 billion a year to keep the fare from the Saddar (Rawalpindi), to Pakistan Secretariat, Islamabad, at Rs20.

According to rough estimate, daily around 331,000 passengers travel by metro buses in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan.

Majority of passengers are students and working class people and they prefer metro bus service.

A number of commuters in Islamabad expressed disappointment over raise of fare saying it was a public friendly transport and the students, particularly girls and women, preferred to travel by it. Nyla, a receptionist in a private company who travels daily from Commercial Market stop to China Chowk Islamabad, said it was hard to pay twice a day the increased fare. “I have no option as it is a safe means of travelling and I will prefer to travel by it,” said she.

Haseeb, a student at National University of Modern Languages (NUML), said he would face a cut on his pocket money as he come from Liaqat Bagh stop in Rawalpindi to NUML daily for his classes. Imran Khan’s government should impose taxes on the rich and refrain from putting pressure on poor and middle class people, he said.