Stories about public transport

Why is a mega metropolitan city like Karachi still struggling with public transport

Spread over an area of 3,780 square kilometres, Karachi is one of the largest cities of Pakistan. Shockingly, commuting is a major issue in the city due to the absence of a government-owned public transport system. As a regular commuter, I often have to wait for the bus for more than half an hour, especially on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) strike days. Moreover, I often have to stand in the bus throughout the 45-minute journey to my university due to unavailability of seats, which numerous other daily commuters including labourers and office workers have to endure as well. Often, as I anxiously wait for buses at various ...

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Do Meesha Shafi’s allegations hold no value just because Ali Zafar “looks like a decent guy”?

I remember spending a whole day during school trying to convince my friend how good-looking this new singer was. She disagreed. But as an 11-year-old, I was very persistent, because not only was he good-looking, he was also ordinary. A boy who spent his days making portraits of others at a hotel lobby, who then suddenly went on to be known as Pakistan’s very own Kishore Kumar. But she still disagreed. So I convinced myself that since she was not a Pakistani, she knew little about the country’s beauty. But that was 2003, and today is a different story. Fifteen years ...

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“Safe” public transport for women: He kept whispering his sexual fantasies to me as he masturbated

I am a big advocate for public transport, which is not only an environment-friendly and cost-effective way of transportation, but also the best choice if you don’t want the hassle of driving yourself. However, another caveat of being a woman in Pakistan is the lack of security you feel every time you travel alone.   I happened to travel to Lahore last month for a meeting, and as I usually do, I chose a Daewoo bus for the commute. While I was at the terminal waiting for the bus, I noticed a young man sitting opposite my chair and blatantly staring ...

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Why I choose not to speak up and say #MeToo

Social media is surreal most of the time; however, this past week has seemed more unreal than usual. My timeline on every social media platform has been flooded, or dare I say bombarded, with #MeToo status updates, tweets and posts. The hashtag went viral after American actress Alyssa Milano tweeted it to encourage more women to come forward with their experiences with sexual harassment, in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal that shook Hollywood. If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n — Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017 My feelings on this hashtag, which ...

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Instead of opposing Uber and Careem, taxi and rickshaw services need to shift up a gear

A few years ago, my old Nissan was at the workshop again and I needed to use public transportation but was dreading opting for a rickshaw or a taxi. After returning to Pakistan several years back, I had relied on them to get around for a year or so until I could afford my own vehicle, and it had been a distinctly unpleasant experience. Many of drivers I had ridden with were rude, dishonest, broke traffic rules and carried the sort of body odour you’d expect from someone driving in the sweltering heat for half a day. Save for one, ...

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The newest way to con passengers on public buses: Target the older women

Getting a seat in a crowded bus is a small victory that one may celebrate in their heart, but if the person seated next to you is stern looking and constantly stares at you for no apparent reason, this victory might turn into uneasiness. At that point, all one wishes for is for time to go by as quickly as possible. However, I have a way out of it; every time I sit next to someone, I give them a slight smile to the person seated next to me. Last night, while on a bus, I smiled at an old lady whom I had ...

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The transgender community doesn’t need Rs200 million, it needs a change in mind-set

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government allocated Rs200 million for the transgender community while announcing their provincial budget. Thank you, your effort is much appreciated. But the main question is; will Rs200 million be the solution to the on-going problems they face? Is it going to remove the social stigma attached to them? How about passing a law against those individuals who treat transgender people with utmost scorn and brutality? Most importantly, how long will it take you to give them their due rights as equal citizens of Pakistan? Back in 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued a judgment stating transgender individuals ...

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Is battling women harassment a man’s duty as well?

A woman clambers aboard a crowded coach, negotiates her way through the jostling throng of people and manages to find a seat. She plumps herself on the vacant place and clenches her hand around her purse. You are sitting on the opposite seat that directly faces her. However, as she fishes out a ballpoint from her purse and begins writing in her notebook, you treat her like just another stranger on the bus, trying to make her way home. Minutes later, something stirs within you. A deep disgust wells up in your heart as you notice a man sitting next to ...

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Why can’t Pakistani women wear niqabs if they don’t want to be stared at?

Dear Express Tribune (ET), (or should I say Sexpress tribune?) Here I was, browsing the internet while feeling very offended that the government had passed a ‘Women Protection Bill’, when I came across your latest liberal agenda spewing blog, titled, ‘Why can’t Pakistani men stop staring at women?’ This article made me so angry. The last time I felt so upset was when I spent seven and a half hours on Sunday pouring over every image and video on Qandeel Baloch’s Facebook page. That day I was so livid, I left comment after comment on her posts, asking her to cover ...

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Were Qingqis banned to placate the bus mafia in Karachi?

The three-wheeler rickshaw, more commonly known as a qingqi, with its economical fares and private space, shielded the common man from a solitary walk on the tattered roads that are heaving with garbage and flies, congested buses and high fares. Qingqi rickshaws were launched by Pervez Musharraf in 1998, as a replacement of cycle rickshaws. In Sindh alone, approximately 0.3 million qingqi rickshaws were operational, out of which 65,000 qingqi owners were from Karachi. However, now the source of their livelihood has been completely eliminated. In lieu of this recent happening, the common man is back to ground zero, back to the ...

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