BRT by TransPeshawar – A cheap and safe public travel service for all!

A new public bus system, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), has impressed the masses in Peshawar. The BRT was launched in 2020 at a time when sexual harassment such as staring, whistling, and touching was widespread on buses or at bus stops in Pakistan.

According to the World Bank, women worried about travelling alone. Approximately 90% of women felt unsafe using public transport as per a 2016 survey. However, the BRT came as a saving grace in the lives of Peshawar women.

Why is BRT great for women?

BRT diesel-electric hybrid buses in Peshawar have a quarter of seats reserved for women. These buses are equipped with CCTV cameras, guards, and have well-lit stations, making female passengers feel more at ease.

M. Umair Khan, the spokesman for TransPeshawar, the government-owned company that operates the BRT, said:

About 15% of the BRT’s 2,000 employees are female, too. Such changes helped explain why women now account for about 30% of bus travelers in the city, up from just 2% two years ago.

There is a need for Transport fit for Women

Pakistani men are more likely to have cars, bikes, or motorcycles than women. Therefore, the latter are more prone to travel using public transport. Lala Rukh Khan, project manager at the Lahore-based Centre for Economic Research (CERP), said:

Women are severely mobility constrained without a good service.

Hadia Majid, director of Saida Waheed Gender Initiative at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, said:

That makes it harder for them to work or study outside the home, build professional networks, socialize, and participate in leisure activities. Safe, reliable, and affordable public transport allows workers to engage in a more extensive job search and find jobs more suited to their particular skill-set.

Thanks to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Peshawar, students and women feel safe traveling from one place to another, that too on a budget. BRT has made travel cheap, quick, and safe with frequent buses, dedicated lanes, subway-like stations, and improved connectivity across the city.

Maximum fares cost about 30 Pakistani rupees ($0.16), making the service especially popular among women from low-income households. However, according to CERP’s Lala Rukh Khan m, there is still room for improvement.

Women still need to travel a mile between their destination and the bus station. Investments in high-quality public transit need to complement other policies that make it safe for women to get from door to door. Poor street lighting, a lack of police patrols in secluded areas, and scant pedestrian infrastructure and public toilets can make that last stretch of travel dangerous. Women hope that BRT is a start and things will continue to get better for them over time.

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