Karachi’s Public Transport – Origins, Evolution and Future Planning

What Fails Karachi

By Azhar Ali | May 2022

The book, Karachi’s Public Transport – Origins, Evolution, and Future Planning, can rightly be declared a ‘book of anatomy’ of Karachi city. It not only explains the origin, evolution and recommendations for future planning of transport facilities in Karachi, it also sheds light on the complicated and ever-evolving social culture of the city.

The book cannot be declared as dealing with the transport issue alone as it addresses the relationship of various sectors to the transport sector. The hawker’s economy and its reliance on informal transport has also been well presented.

The book is a “lessons learnt” output of various efforts made in decades to improve the sector. It provides information about what went wrong and why? It highlights the difficult terrain one may face while trying to bring reforms. There are legal and official barriers along with well-known corruption and ethnic issues along with personal preferences and needs of commuters.

The book could be a great tool in the hands of city and future planners. It states that 68% of the city’s population belongs to low-income groups. Though this information may need an update and can’t be used for various purposes, it is indeed an important piece of information for the transport sector. It proves the writers right that a transport system can only be successful if it is heavily subsidized or supported through government policies and planning.

The reasons for failure in past interventions have again been rightly diagnosed as lack (sometimes tracking back) of political willingness/support and widespread corruption at different levels. Another set of data providing information about employment clusters in different parts of the city could be indispensable tool in the hands of transport planners. Suitable routes could be defined for any future interventions.

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