In a significant development, the Metro Bus Service connecting Islamabad and Rawalpindi has been permanently closed, leaving commuters in dismay.
The Punjab Mass Transit Authority (PMA) announced the cessation of the fast metro bus service initiated last year, citing financial constraints and inadequate vehicle availability as the primary reasons.
Previously hailed by commuters for its time-saving benefits, the “non-stop” bus service, with only seven stops between the Pakistan Secretariat in Islamabad and Saddar in Rawalpindi, has now been discontinued. This decision has triggered protests from regular users who valued the service’s efficiency, saving them approximately twenty minutes of travel time compared to the conventional route with 24 stops, consuming nearly 50 minutes.
According to Uzair Shah, General Manager Operations of PMA, seven out of a total of 68 metro buses were designated for the express project. Despite initial positive reception, the express service failed to generate sufficient revenue, leading to its closure. Consequently, all metro buses operating between Rawalpindi and Islamabad will now stop at each of the 24 stations along the route.
Although efforts are underway to finalize pending tasks, including the operationalization of the 6th Road bus stop by February 3, delays have been encountered, partly attributed to the divisional administration’s plan to host a ceremonial function for its official opening. Punjab’s Caretaker Chief Minister, Mohsin Naqvi, is expected to attend the event, further complicating scheduling matters.
Sources from the senior commissioner’s office revealed challenges in securing the chief minister’s availability dates for events in the garrison city, contributing to the administrative delays.
This closure marks a significant setback for commuters reliant on efficient public transportation between the twin cities, underscoring the challenges of sustaining mass transit projects amidst financial constraints.