The Khyber Pakhtunkwa government launched on Thursday a ‘Pink Bus’ service in Mardan in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Project Services.
The provincial government started discussing separate transport services for women in 2015.
The buses were launched at a ceremony organised at Pakhtunkhwa House. MPA Sajida Hanif inaugurated the service. Members of the provincial assembly, local government officials and Mardan DPO Sajjad Khan attended the ceremony.
Mardan is the first city in the country to get a women-only bus service and it’s an honor for the city, Hanif told SAMAA TV.
“The bus service has been started to facilitate female passengers,” Hanif said at the ceremony. “The number of buses will be increased in the days to come.”
She said the project was inaugurated in 2017 but was delayed due to technical issues. The government was looking for the appropriate firms for the job, she said.
Now, the Japanese government has provided 14 buses for the project. The KP government decided to operate seven buses in Mardan and seven others in Abbottabad.
The Japanese government also made funds available for the project. With this money, 30 bus stops were built– 15 in Mardan and as many in Abbottabad.
Women will be immensely benefited by the service, said Hanif.
It’s going to be a comfortable journey using the pink bus, one of conductors said. She said the air-conditioned buses have 19 comfortable seats. Women can download an app on their mobile phones to find out the exact location of the bus they are traveling in, she said.
Initially, the service has been launched with three buses. Four others will begin operations from April 8. The service has terminals at Baghdad Chowk and Wali Khan University (Garden Campus).
The pink buses will run from Baghdad Chowk near the Girls Primary School, the Government Girls Degree College, Maqam Chowk, Malakand Chowk, Abdul Qadeer Khan Chowk, College Chowk, Bacha Khan Chowk,, Ansi College Chowk, BISE Mardan, Bacha Khan Medical College, Sports Complex Mardan, Peshawar Model School, Toro CNG station and Wali Khan University (Garden Campus).
The KP government had inaugurated the service last year as well but the project could not get off the ground. Buses started rusting while being parked at their stands.
The provincial government tasked TransPeshawar to inspect the service. It appointed a local company to run the buses under its supervision. TransPeshawar has signed agreements with local firms, including the Frontier Organisation for Reforms & Transformation. The joint venture firm will be responsible for the recruitment of drivers and other support staff.
The fare for the pink buses has been set at Rs20. The buses will be driven by male drivers with female conductors. “The company wished to have female drivers but it’s extremely difficult to find them in Mardan,” Noman Manzoor, a TransPeshawar communication officer, told SAMAA TV.