Update (April 7, 2021): The country’s very first electric bus service has finally been introduced in Karachi by the government of Sindh. As of now, this bus service will run on only one route between Tower and Sohrab Goth. However, the authorities are already looking forward to expanding the fleet of electric buses in Karachi in the near future.
Inaugurating the bus service, the Sindh Transport Minister Awais Qadir Shah said that up to 100 buses would be introduced in Karachi by the end of this year. He also stated that the provincial government had plans to keep adding buses to the fleet of the electric-powered bus service in Karachi every month. Initially, the bus service has been introduced with a fare of PKR 4 per kilometre.
The Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has also appreciated and congratulated the provincial government on this groundbreaking development via an official tweet and called it a “remarkable step”. This is what Fawad Chaudhry’s tweet says:
Update (March 22, 2021): A new bus service named ’16-D’ has reportedly started running on the roads of Karachi from Saturday (March 20, 2021). This public transportation service is based on a fleet of 30 air-conditioned buses. The route of these newly-launched buses starts from Dawood Chowrangi in Landhi Town, passes through Shahrah-e-Faisal, and goes all the way to Tower.
The fare of a single trip on this bus is PKR 100 per person. According to Muhammad Shafi, the owner of the bus service, two more routes are in the pipeline.
Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan, is home to roughly 22.5 million people, due to which the city is also known as “mini Pakistan”. Navigating this urban, concrete jungle, spread over an area of 3,780 sq km, is made possible by a web of narrow streets, wide roads, and expansive expressways. Given the always-increasing headcount in the city, and the need to commute swiftly and conveniently from one end of the city to another, the provincial government of Sindh and the federal government of Pakistan have initiated a mega transportation project named the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Currently, the BRT is under development, but once completed, it will have a significant impact on the overall condition of public transport in Karachi.
Available Modes of Public Transport in Karachi
For now, commuters in Karachi rely on three major modes of transportation to move across the metropolis:
- Minibuses & Coaches
- Taxis, Rickshaws & App-Based Ride-Sharing Services
Minibuses & Coaches
“Double Ay Ustad”. These words echo in the ears of almost every soul living in Karachi. Usually shouted repeatedly by the conductors of these mostly overcrowded and heavily decorated minibuses, these can be easily spotted zigzagging on the busy streets and roads of Karachi. Minibuses and coaches account for the largest share in the network of public transport in Karachi, and their total number is estimated to be somewhere around 5,000.
From Tower to Gadap Town to places in between and beyond, commuters in Karachi can travel anywhere in the city via a minibus. Minibuses usually charge a minimum fare of PKR 15, and hence they are considered the cheapest means of transportation in Karachi. Here are some of the most popular mini bus routes in Karachi with their starting and ending points.
|D10||Korangi 100 Quarters to Taiser Town|
|F16||Mianwali Colony to Machine Tool Factory|
|S2||Korangi 100 Quarters to Ayub Goth|
|W18||From Surjani Town to Fish Harbour|
|X8||From Ittehad Town to Qayyumabad|
|X10||From Mohajir Camp to DHA Phase 8|
|W22||Nai Abadi to Korangi No. 2 1/2|
|F11||From Gul Ahmed Textile Mills to Mustafabad Colony|
|G25||From Ittehad Town to Rasheedabad|
|Gulistan Coach||From Pehlwan Goth to Qayyumabad|
|Safari Coach||From Maroora Goth to Mianwali Colony|
|Data Coach||From KDA Site Office to Abdul Shah Ghazi Mazar|
|Super Hasan Zai Coach||From Sohrab Goth to KDA|
Karachiites prefer using rickshaws and taxis for covering shorter distances. However, for longer routes, people prefer taking buses, which are a much cheaper mode of transportation. Currently, three bus services are serving the people of Karachi, and they are:
- Privately Owned Buses
- Peoples Bus Service
- CNG Green Bus Service
Privately Owned Buses
Along with minibuses, a fleet of privately owned full-sized buses is also a significant part of the public transport service in Karachi. These buses can accommodate over 60 passengers and charge a minimum fare of PKR 15. However, the fare can go up to around PKR 25 to PKR 30 for longer trips. The most popular bus routes in Karachi of these large buses are:
|1L||From Raees Amrohi Colony to Sharifabad|
|19D||From Faqeer Colony to Kharkar Chowrangi|
|20||From Saeedabad Nai Abadi Sector 8 to Clifton|
|2K||From North Nazimabad to Keamari|
|4L||From Maymar Complex to Tower|
|4K||From Kali Market to Tower|
|11C||From Azam Basti to Safoora Goth|
Peoples Bus Service (Discontinued)
The Peoples Bus Service was launched in Karachi by the government of Sindh. The service initially had a fleet of 10 buses, which was expanded to over 50. These buses were fully air-conditioned, had enough space to comfortably seat 30 people, with separate entrances for men and women.
Commuters in Karachi travelling between Quaidabad and Tower could use this bus service for a fare of PKR 20 to PKR 40, depending on the distance of the trip. However, the service was suspended in November 2020 by the government of Sindh.
CNG Green Bus Service
The City District Government Karachi (CDGK), in collaboration with the federal government, started the CNG Green Bus Service in the mid-2000s. However, due to some critical operation and funding issues, the bus service was abandoned only a few years after its launch. However, the CNG Bus Service was revived in 2014 by the then-Sindh Chief Minister, Qaim Ali Shah. Having a trip fare between PKR 30 to PKR 40, it comprises a fleet of 30 buses running between Pakistan Steel Township and Tower via Shahrah-e-Faisal and I.I. Chundrigar Road.
Taxis, Rickshaws, & App-Based Ride-Sharing Services
Travel back five years, and you will see almost all the commercial centres in Karachi having taxis and rickshaws parked at the taxi stands in their proximity. Hiring these privately-owned vehicles was costly, but people used them since the availability of transportation options was limited.
However, the introduction of app-based taxi services in Karachi in recent years has changed the game. These ride-hailing services are not only cheaper but also pick you up from your selected location, which provides greater convenience.
Cars, rickshaws, and bikes are the three types of vehicles employed by these app-based taxi services in Karachi.
While we are on the subject, here are some important things that people should know before using a ride-hailing app.
Upcoming Transportation Projects in Karachi
As mentioned earlier, the local government, with the support and funding from Sindh and the federal government, is working on a few mega transportation projects in Karachi. These projects include ‘Trans Karachi Breeze’ based on Green Line, Blue Line, Red Line, Yellow Line, and Orange Line as well as the revival of the circular railway.
Green Line BRT
This is a mega project that is expected to cater to thousands of commuters in Karachi on a daily basis. Green Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is going to serve as the first phase of metro bus in Karachi upon completion. It is going to be a 26 km long busway having one terminal in Surjani Town and one near Karachi’s City Station.
Numaish Chowrangi on M.A. Jinnah Road is going to become a home to the first underground bus station in South Asia. The projected route of Green Line BRT, which is a part of the proposed project of metro bus in Karachi, is:
- The Railway Road
- Molvi Tameezuddin Road
- M. A Jinnah Road
- Business Recorder Road
- Nawab Siddiqui Ali Khan Road
- Shershah Suri Road
- Shahrah e Usman Road
- Khawaja Shamsuddin Azimi Road
The Revival of Karachi Circular Railway
The Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) began its operations in 1969. Initially, the KCR line stretched between Drigh Road and City Station. However, in the 1970s, the railway line was extended several times to add more stations to the KCR network. At the time when Karachi Circular Railway was at its peak, it had 104 trains running daily through many of the city’s residential and commercial areas.
Due to constant monetary losses and some persistent operational issues, the KCR came to a complete halt in the 1990s. After months of effort and planning, the KCR service has finally been relaunched on February 10, 2021. In the initial phase of its relaunch, Karachi Circular Railway is running on a 14-kilometre-track between Orangi and Karachi City Station.
Once successful, the authorities have plans to introduce a new route for KCR. It will connect City Station, Liaquatabad, Drigh Road, and Jinnah International Airport via a network of railway lines. However, due to the lack of public awareness and limited route, the revival of KCR didn’t turn out to be as successful as expected.
The daily number of passengers on the train is alarming low. Operations of one of the two trains have already been suspended just over a month after its relaunch. If financial losses persist, the train service may be shut down again.
This brings us to the end of our complete overview of public transport in Karachi. We’ll keep updating this blog with the latest developments, so make sure to keep checking back. For your feedback and suggestions, get in touch with us at email@example.com.
Also, keep following Zameen Blog, Pakistan’s top lifestyle blog, to get up-to-date information about public transport in other major cities of Pakistan as well.