Rawalpindi - Muhammad Hanif Abbasi, chairman of Metro Bus Service Project Implementation Committee and former member of national assembly, on Sunday said the metro bus service in the twin citied would be launched on January 30, 2015.

He said the 24 kilometres long metro bus route would be signal-free and the project will be completed in January. Accompanied by Commissioner Rawalpindi Zahid Saeed, Hanif Abbasi told reporters here that the project, which was scheduled to be launched on December 25 this year, had been delayed due to the sit-ins in the federal capital, as work on its Islamabad portion could not continue. He said 24 bus stations, 10 in Rawalpindi and 14 in Islamabad, were being constructed on the Metro Bus route at a cost of Rs 4152 million.

The bus stations, which would be 216 meter long and 19 meter wide, would have state of the art facilities like screen doors, lifts, electronic stairs, ticket stations and automatic platforms.

The bus stations for Rawalpindi included Saddar (Flashman Hotel), Marir Chowk, Liaquat Bagh, Committee Chowk, Waris Khan, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Rehmanabad, Sixth Road, Shamisabad and Faizabad, while IJP Road, Potohar Road, Khayban-e-Johar, Faiz Ahmed Faiz Road, Kashmir Highway, Jhaman Road, Ibn-e-Sina Road, Kutchery Chowk, Stock Exchange, Seventh Avenue, Shahid-e-Millat Road, Parade Ground and Secretariat Stop would be in Islamabad.

The commissioner said the metro bus authority would take over the command and control centre and bus stations of metro bus service in November. The Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) is trying hard to complete the construction work on metro bus command and control centre and 14 bus stations within the shortest possible timeframe, he said.

After taking over, the metro bus authority would install elevators, escalators, security camera monitors and other equipment at the centre and bus stations, he said. He said the metro bus authority would not only run the bus service but also handle other issues including security and providing ambulance service in case of an accident.

He said a seven-storey plaza was being constructed in Saddar area where two floors would be allocated for the command and control centre and the remaining for parking vehicles of passengers. Total cost of the plaza was Rs440 million, which was being constructed on four kanals of land.

He said that the metro bus authority would take at least two months for installation of elevators and other equipment in the command and control centre. The commissioner said the CCTV cameras would be installed on the elevated road and main route of the bus service for monitoring from the command and control centre. He said total 83 elevators and escalators would be installed at bus stations.

The commissioner said the construction work on the Islamabad section was in full swing. The RDA would hand over bus stations in Islamabad to the Metro Bus Authority as soon as work on them was finished, he said.  

Replying to a question about Peshawar Interchange, he said the work was relatively slow due to some hurdles but the contractor had been asked to speed up the work.

Hanif Abbasi said the metro bus project was a gift of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif for the residents of twin cities. He said the metro bus service would facilitate as many as 160,000 commuters travelling by public transport daily. Some 64 air-conditioned buses would initially ply on the route. The project will provide quality travelling facilities to the citizens of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, he added.

Hanif Abbasi said subsidized fare of the service would be only Rs 20, which was far less than that of the public transport. The project, he said, would cost Rs 44 billion.