Stories about public transport

The tug of war between transporters and cops

Waiting at traffic signals on the busy roads of Karachi, you can see motorcyclists, rickshaws, car drivers and even the big public transport bus drivers breach the signals because they don’t have a minute to spare for it to turn green. They ram into each other or nearly crush somebody at the other side, just to save this minute. You smile inside your helmet or your car when you think of this nation that always reaches, at least, an hour late at every event or meeting, though they don’t have a minute for the traffic signal. When the signal turns ...

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I visited Karachi after 10 years: Here’s what I saw!

I recently returned from a trip to Karachi, the city of my birth. It was my first visit there in ten years. I was asked many times how I’d noticed the city changed from what I remembered of it. Much could be said in response, but one observation merits particular mention- Karachi’s new (at least to me) rickshaws. Growing up, no trip to Karachi was complete without a bumpy ride in an incredibly noisy, cramped but airy rickshaw. Rickshaws then were arty, individually coloured affairs, sporting pretty geometric patterns on the sides and rear, sometimes accompanied by crafty names or ...

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While Karachi was shutting down, I learned a harsh lesson

I was on a bus going back home, when the bus was stopped near Mausamyaat Gulistan-e-Jauhar area and we were asked to step out of the bus due to the protest going on in the city. It was March 6, 2013; the time was 2:00pm. Though part of the public transport system, I expected that the bus drivers and conductors would show some responsibility on their own behalf, but the bus driver asked everyone to get out of the bus the moment he saw flames and heard firing heading his way. I can’t blame him though; in times like today people ...

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General elections and Rawalpindi

The general elections are around the corner. Although an actual date for the elections has not been announced by the government, every politician is trying to complete development projects in his/her constituency. As a resident of the federal capital, when I look towards neighbouring Rawalpindi, I see elected officials in every constituency focusing on development projects. The urban parts of the city seem to have emerged as a major hub of the PML-N, which is probably because the Punjab government has executed a number of important development projects there since coming to power. Sometimes, being a resident of Islamabad, I cannot help ...

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Not so soon Karachi

If the laptop scheme by Shahbaz Sharif was a ‘four’, the completion of Lahore’s Rapid Bus Transit System is a ‘sixer’, that too, on a no-ball. Around a week before the maiden transit system was to be inaugurated, TV channels started flashing footages of the city’s newest achievement. In Lahore, excited locals cheered for this latest development project, while in Karachi, I sat in my chair feeling happy yet envious at the same time. I’m pleased because I know what this transport-revolution will do to the people of the city but I am also overly-jealous since I won’t be able to use ...

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Public transport woes

Women cursed as they inadvertently poked each others’ flesh while making way for a new passenger. The new middle-aged commuter was equally vocal about her frustrations as her feet forced their way on the footboard. With half her body suspended in air, she was finally heading home after an hour long wait. This is a scene you witness almost every other day if you belong to the 99% of Pakistani nation. Cars and motorcycles pass by commuters quickly, while they wait for the multi-coloured buses to appear on the horizon. Each soul at the bus stop hopes the approaching bus sports ...

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Public transport woes

I like travelling by public transportation. It’s an entirely subjective declaration for which I don’t find a lot of support. A major part of my public transport experience is based on intra- and inter-city travel in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The public transit system here, much like everywhere else in Pakistan, is not run by the government. Rather, it’s owned and operated by private transporters. I’ve been a commuter for almost seven years now. I still try to travel by public transport every chance I get. I have my reasons. The most common form of public transport in the twin cities is the ...

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Bring an underground subway system to Karachi already!

Travelling back home from work is always a tough and tiring job in any metropolitan city across the world, but in Karachi, this experience can be downright torturous. Motor-cyclists and rickshaw drivers squeezing in from every tiny little space they can manage to find, rash bus drivers, security protocols – the never ending list just drives us underprivileged car drivers crazy. A while ago, while I was in Ukraine for the Euro cup, travelling via the tube in Kiev city, my hosts, a middle class Ukrainian couple, inquired about the subway system in Karachi. I very casually told them that we did not ...

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My experience with ‘Call-a-Rik’

Travelling around by rickshaw is something most Pakistanis, especially ones in the cities, are used to. Travelling through a ‘Rik’, though, is an entirely different experience! When a colleague told me about the Call-a-Rik service, I immediately decided to give this new addition in the public transport of Pakistan a try. Here is my account of the experience. Reserving a Rik: I visited the website of the service and found it be very distasteful. They definitely need a better web designer, but I digress. The purpose of my visit was to gather some information about the service and to book ...

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Who will speak for the Pakistani woman?

Whether you wear a dupatta or not, the fact of the matter is that the minute a woman steps out of her house, she will feel as if everyone is staring at her. And this will happen in the local market and regardless of which neighbourhood you may be in – affluent or relatively poor – the reaction from men is usually the same. They gawk at you as though you are from a different planet. Even when I have to go to my workplace, I quickly get off the car and rush inside, lest all kinds of prying and penetrating eyes be ...

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