EXPLAINER: Can Green Line alone resolve Karachi transport woes?

At the presstime, the number of routes where buses run across Karachi stands at about 50 with hardly over 5,000 buses doing rounds. On average a bus transports across the day about 257 passengers. By that account, if all the buses operate at their full capacity, they can still cater to only 1,285,000 passengers daily while the number of daily Karachi commuters was in 2012 study estimated to be more than 5.6 million.

According to a study by Shehri NGO, there are essentially 329 routes Karachi-wide where a public transit system needs to be in place while only 50 have buses on them, and that too, very few.

However, Karachi Transport Ittehad chairman Irshad Bukhari claims that some years back the volume of buses (including large buses, minibuses and wagons) was above 25,000. “It has now shrunk to about 5,000 and we only run transport on some 50 routes.”

The commencement of Green Line BRT is promised on December 25 this year, and gradually its operations will go full scale by January 10, according to the government.

It may be reminded that Green Line groundbreaking was performed back in 2016 and in the same year with the difference of a few months, construction works on Orange Line BRT began as well.

Compared to 22-km-long GL, OL is merely 4-km and as opposed to GL which will allow onboard 135,000 at full capacity, OL will only go less than 50,000 commuters at best, and despite that its construction has not yet finished.

The study by JICA company pointed out at least six bus-based lines for an integrated mass transit corridor of Karachi for the population and commuter magnitude of the mega city. That, too, not because that would put an end to the oozing crises but because that’s the best Karachi could do with whatever little budget it has to surmount the gigantic challenge.

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However, the integrated plan JICA worked out was to be built by 2015 so that it could serve the city’s population until 2030, the year when Karachi’s populace would exceed that of New York.

But 12 years later, the projects are still languishing as none of the lines has been fully constructed while four of them have yet to qualify the study and approval phase.

Is it the Sisyphus legend at play?