Taking The Long Walk Home: The Bus Does Not Stop Here

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metro
With the heat wave at its strongest point in the season, and Lahore braving the June temperatures, hundreds of commuters who use the public transport face difficulty in getting to their homes.

Two months down the line, Youhanabad station of metro bus service still remains uninhabited. The bus no longer stops here. This happened after the station was vandalized in wake of the blasts on churches in Youhanabad.

Being the biggest Christian town of Lahore, a major chunk of the poor laborers or students or other workers use the metro bus to commute. Now the only option left is to get down one stop earlier and walk home under the sweltering sun or a rickshaw ride. The latter is a luxury only a few can afford keeping in view the meager daily wage they earn.

As daily commuters pass by they inquire about the stations opening but are shown the way by officials saying it is temporarily closed for repairs. But most commuters believe the government is deliberately delaying the renovation work. “It wants to teach a ‘lesson’ to the violent protestors,” comments Pervez Masih, a low-income government employee who used to commute on Metro Bus to go to his office.

The Youhanabad Metro bus station wears a deserted look with no sign of repairs. It has also been reported that funds for repairs have now been allocated by the government. Two months have gone by and no one knows how many more will. A system that was designed for the convenience of public transport users is not being of any convenience.

Even if the station does become operational, the e ticketing system will not run and a manual system will be used. According to Ozair Shah, General Manager (Operations), Metro Bus Service, the government did not release funds for the repair and reconstruction of the station until recently. “About Rs50 million has been approved for the purpose. The station should be operational very soon. There would be no e-ticketing machine because that would need to be imported from Turkey, and it may take long.”