Metro Bus Subsidy Crosses 2.71 Billion Mark

PML N’s government has always had the approach of ‘slapping’ concrete everywhere and labeling it as development, turning blind eye to the actual issues.

No doubt, infrastructure is the backbone of a progressing country, however, they cannot be ranked above health and education, anywhere in the world.

Is the project worth of giving a public subsidy in a country where 60% of the population lives below the poverty line? Where our Human Development Index (HDI) ranks 147/188 in the world? and we rank 135/150 over the international literacy rate. We really need some introspection to determine that “Are we really capable of asserting that we need a Metro which ranks in the top most expensive metro in the region we live in? Do we really deserve this Metro over Bread, Butter and Books? What more is the perennial subsidy over it. Just like a cherry on the top!

Comparative Human Development Trends of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh

Source: UNDP

A country that already is suffocated under huge external debt, did we actually need to invest in projects that will earn no revenue? but rather we would have to spend continuously on it out of our tax money? Adding insult to the injury is that the operations are also outsourced to foreign companies and a large portion of capital flies ‘offshore‘.


Metro Bus project as a whole has been under criticism since the beginning on the actual need of it. However, recently the metro bus loss crossed the huge 2.71 billion mark, creating a concern for everyone.

Being marketed as a ‘gift’ to the country, Metro is proving more of a curse than a blessing. In terms of its benefits to the society and associated costs, the Project is nothing but a white elephant.

A report by American Public Transport Association BRT estimated that cost of infrastructure should be between $ 2-18 million/km (as of 2014).

Considering the low cost of labor in Pakistan, the spending on Lahore Metro Bus project was recorded to be about $ 11million/km, which is far beyond the estimate of 5-7m/km approx. Comparing to similar projects in neighborhoods like  India and China, our costs are almost 4 times higher than their benchmarks (India costs $ 2.9 million per Km of Metro Construction) 

The report also compared the cost to other countries like China and Turkey as well saying that the cost of Metro Bus Lahore is substantially higher than even the internationally set benchmarks.

The dilemma is being lack of vision; these projects are heavy on the budget and do not contribute positively in terms of socioeconomic perspectives. Rather they roll the wheel backwards. Furthermore, lack of transparency and quality control compounds the issue, doing more bad than good.

Where on one hand people are suffering due to lack of adequate facilities in public hospitals, governments spend huge figures to deceive people, manipulating the true essence of progress and ‘development’.

Are projects like Metro actually contribute in improving the living standards or are just a hoax to create a satisfying image of the government’s actual performance and justifying overspendings? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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