A number of people have stopped using the metro bus services in Lahore and Rawalpindi after the government increased fares in July.
Some estimates suggest that over 15,000 people have started using chingchis or cars instead of the bus service.
The Punjab government increased the fares from Rs20 to Rs30 after it finished the Rs1.2 billion annual subsidy it was providing to the Punjab Mass Transit Authority to keep the fare at Rs20 per person.
“I don’t use the metro bus service anymore,” a Rawalpindi resident said. “Everyone has to pay Rs30 now, even if they don’t want to travel along the whole track,” he said, adding that local wagons and chingchis take Rs15 or Rs20 for the same distance. “I find them much cheaper.” He said that the government should reduce the cost of the bus service.
“They can keep the prices at Rs30 for Islamabad and make it Rs20 for Rawalpindi.”
A man who runs a shop in Islamabad said that he has to travel from Rawalpindi to Islamabad every day. “The previous price was affordable for all but now travelling via the metro has become quite expensive. Sometimes, even the air conditioners inside the bus aren’t running, so why should I pay so much for it?”
In Lahore, the metro bus covers a 30-kilometre distance from Gajumata to Shahadra.
“Previously, my metro card used to work for two days and now I have to get it topped up after one day,” said a woman in Lahore. “If you use the bus thrice a day, then it takes your cost to Rs90.”
But there are also others who are remain unfazed by the price increase.
“So what if the prices have gone up? It doesn’t mean that I will stop using the bus service,” said a student, who takes the bus to university every day.