PESHAWAR: Urban transport experts say a Rs 49 billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system planned for Peshawar to provide ease to commuters has many technical design flaws and may fail to achieve its aim of transporting over 0.5 million commuters.

The BRT system will carry over 17 per cent of the city’s total population or a total of 0.5 million passengers, according to the project proposal, a copy of which is available with Truth Tracker. The funds spent on the project will be provided by Asian Development Bank as soft loan, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Transport Minister Shad Mohammad Khan told Truth Tracker.

However, experts within the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa(KP) Transport Department have expressed concern over the preliminary design of BRT and have asked for changes.

One of the experts, who reviewed the BRT design, said the design lacks integration with the city’s existing traffic.

“Without integration, the BRT execution will face problems from transport companies currently plying vehicles on city’s roads and commuters will also suffer,” the expert, who wished to be anonymous as he is not allowed to talk to media, told Truth Tracker.

Preliminary designs, seen by Truth Tracker, project a fleet of over 350 buses of 9-meter and 12-meter length with a network of 35 stations.

The smaller buses will drive on smaller roads outside the BRT corridor while longer buses will ply the main GT Road inside the corridor. The BRT corridor has a length of 27 kilometers. In case the bus fleet falls short, more buses of 19-meter buses could be added to the fleet, says the project proposal.

Deputy Superintendent of Traffic Police Rahim Hussain said the BRT would affect the flow of traffic throughout the city. Traffic authorities plan to divert traffic from routes where BRT will be constructed.

“We have proposed several smaller roads across the city to government so that traffic should be diverted to those roads during execution of BRT,” Hussain told Truth Tracker.

International guideline standards for BRT networks have been formulated by the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy, a non-for-profit organization based in US which works on promoting sustainable and equitable transportation worldwide.

Under those guidelines, every BRT preliminary design must include a component on integration of projected BRT routes with existing traffic.

Any new BRT system “should integrate into the rest of the public transport network,” the guidelines state.

Currently five modes of transportation are used in Peshawar including buses, minibuses, wagons, taxis and rickshaws.

BRT’s Project Director at KP Transport and Mass Transit Department, Sajjad Khan, said they have formulated a plan of integration for the existing traffic and also for the traffic management of the existing vehicles during execution of the BRT project.

Some shops vendors along the future route of BRT have reservations about the project as they weren’t consulted before preparation of the preliminary design.

Khan said they have been taken on board and their shops will be relocated as per the plan prepared by BRT management. “All the changes and details will be mentioned in the final design of BRT.”

The BRT preliminary design also mentioned that the project may be affected due to security issues if government buildings fall along the BRT route, said Khan. “No Objection Certificates (NOC) to build BRT around government buildings have been sought from all stakeholders including security agencies in view of this,” said Khan

The K-P Transport Association has held various meetings with transport officials and other government representatives about existing public transport buses.

Association President Khan Zaman said transport companies agreed with the government that they will adjust the buses in other routes of the cities in both urban and rural areas.

“We have first expressed reservations on BRT which will halt existing buses in the city but now the government has reassured us that these buses will be adjusted into the BRT fleet,” Zaman told Truth Tracker.

He added that they have officially protested since all these details were not mentioned in the preliminary design of BRT.

Zaman said the government has also assured the transport companies that the government will financially help in getting new buses to replace the old ones.

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