In Karachi ‘bus stops’ are nowhere and everywhere

Karachi: In Karachi no formal and functional bus stop could be found on any road, because the city and the body responsible for running it, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), do not believe in benefits of proper bus stops; this is why in Karachi every point of every road is a non-formal and non-marked bus stop. A commuter can signal a minibus to halt anywhere and the minibus would surely stop there, even in the middle of road with traffic running around fast.

Bus stops are necessary for safety of passengers. In many country there are separate laws for bus stop safety that make the drivers of public transport vehicles bound to ensure complete safety of their commuters. In no circumstances a bus driver is allowed to halt its public transport vehicle anywhere but at a designated and well-marked bus stop.

Bus stops enhance passenger safety in a number of ways: Bus stops prevent passengers from trying to board or alight in hazardous situations such as at intersections or where a bus is turning and is not using the curb lane.

A bus driver cannot be expected to continuously look for intending passengers. A bus stop means that the driver only needs to look for intending passengers at the approach to each bus stop.

Having bus stops requires passengers to group themselves prior to boarding, which reduces time spent at boarding.

However, in Karachi no one is ready to believe there in any need to set up bus stops, properly install visible boards at the bus stops already present and make the public transport driver strictly bound to halt only at these disseminated and well-marked bus stops.

Interestingly, in past Karachi did have functional bus stops and disciplined drivers who used to halt their buses at these bus stops. Veteran citizens of Karachi still remember that four decades ago the city used to have proper bus stops in all areas and all public transport buses and vans used to stop their to pick and drop the commuters.

However, it was a Karachi before introduction of ‘Wadera culture and gun politics’. It was before the writ of government vanished from this mega city. Presently, public transport vehicles could easily stop at any point on busy roads if a commuter waiting there signals them to stop. These buses could also stop anywhere also if any commuter travelling in these buses intends to alight from the vehicle there.

Karachi is only urban centre of the world that has no bus stop culture. This unique city in fact has no public transport policy. Its buses are not painted in official public transport colour. Their drivers wear no uniform. Their commuters are not issued bus tickets after charging fare from them. These buses run on cheap CNG but charge fare on the basis of diesel use. In this city taxis and rickshaws do not have any meters and they charge fare at their sweet will. This is the only city of the world where commuters also travel on the rooftops of minibuses. In this city government officials including traffic cops are easily bribed as there is lack of government writ in this metropolis.

Bus stops are made for the safety of commuters and easy flow of traffic on streets. It is a major sign of rule of law and discipline in urban societies.

A bus stop is a designated place where buses stop for passengers to board or alight from a bus. These are normally positioned on the highway and are distinct from off-highway facilities such as bus stations. The construction of bus stops tends to reflect the level of usage. Stops at busy locations may have shelters, seating and possibly electronic passenger information systems; less busy stops may use a simple pole and flag to mark the location and “customary stops” have no specific infrastructure being known by their description. Bus stops may be clustered together into transport hubs allowing interchange between routes from nearby stops and with other public transport modes.

Police and rangers have been carrying out an operation against law breakers of this city for last two years, but they have yet failed to realize that for uphold of law, it is necessary to strictly implement civic laws, especially traffic and public transport rules, as they give loud and clear message that the law enforcing officials are present and working everywhere. If a bus stops on a busy road at any point, if there is no colour code for public transport vehicles, if commuters sit on rooftops of the buses the message is loud and clear that this is an unruly, undisciplined and lawless society, irrespective of the reports and rhetoric of the police, law enforcers and government.

The police and rangers could render a great albeit indirect service to improve law and order in Karachi, if they only manage that public transport buses and minibuses strictly follow the bus stop rule and did not stop at any other place saving a designated bus stop.