The next safest mode of transport is rail. Pakistan Railways, once regarded as the lifeline of the country, is now becoming a white elephant. The incompetent administration has failed to improve the services and passengers are suffering due to administrative mismanagement. Stations lack proper sitting arrangement for the passengers. The seats placed are not in proportion to the number of travellers and the huge number of relatives and friends who have either come to see them off or receive them. As such, disgruntled passengers could be seen leaning against pillars, sitting on the platforms hindering free movement of others including goods being ferried away by porters, and yet others could be seen sitting on their stockpile of luggage.
This cheap and safe mode for passengers is facing a number of problems. Almost all trains are late. Others have been cancelled, suspended or terminated and many more will be suspended in near future due to mismanagement and shortage of locomotives, fuel and money. Those that are running are in pathetic condition. The boggies lack basic facilities like running water, proper sanitation, electricity and functional air conditioning. After a survey of all the railway stations, condition of the trains and the perpetual delay in arrival and departure no one would like to travel by train. It is only their financial problems that compel them to opt for travelling by trains.
Last month’s Bhoja air crash has left many passengers scared of travelling by air. Like the trains, the service of the national carrier leaves much to be desired. Last October Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had to reduce its flights by 23 per cent as nine of its 39 aircraft were grounded for want of spare parts. PIA’s slogan of yesteryears—Great people to fly with—has become a mockery now. Mismanagement, nepotism, corruption, financial issues, political interference, and lack of maintenance have tarnished its image. During the golden period of PIA it was renowned for its excellent performance and superior quality.
Now there are complaints of terrible service, long delayed flights, emergency crash landings, cancellation of flights, shortage of planes, unclean toilets that smell from a distance and non-serious attitude of the administration. These issues create frustration among the passengers. They feel fear and life risk while travelling by PIA.
An affordable mobility is a valuable benefit of public transportation, providing low cost transportation for people who do not, or cannot operate a motor vehicle because of personal preference, low income, disability, youth or old age. Using public transportation means freedom from the chronic congestion encountered when you drive or fly, freedom from hours wasted sitting in traffic, in airports or on runways and costing billions in lost time and fuel.