Pink bus for Karachi's female passengers ready to glide

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Pink bus exclusively for women moving into the Frere Halls premises on February 1, 2023. — INP
Pink bus exclusively for women moving into the Frere Hall's premises on February 1, 2023. — INP

As the historic Frere Hall's premises in Karachi beamed with haute pink hue, the Sindh Transport Department Wednesday launched the People's Pink bus service for women, who can avail free rides till February 7.

The inauguration of the exclusive bus service was led by female members of the parliament and civil society, while women from the media were also present during the ceremony.

Female lawmakers from Sindh and Transport Minister Sharjeel Memon at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the launch of the Pink Bus service in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — INP
Female lawmakers from Sindh and Transport Minister Sharjeel Memon at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the launch of the Pink Bus service in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — INP 

Sindh Transport Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon and Labour Minister Saeed Ghani were also present on the occasion along with other lawmakers, dignitaries and bureaucrats. 

Initially, the dedicated bus service will run from Model Colony to Tower via Sharea Faisal and eight buses will be running on this route. Each pink bus has a total capacity of 50 passengers, while the number of seats is 24 and two reserved seats are for passengers with special needs.

A view of Pink Buses standing near the Frere Hall library in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — Online
A view of Pink Buses standing near the Frere Hall library in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — Online

Female hostesses have been hired for bus service, which will run every 20 minutes from 7am to 11am and from 4pm to 9pm. The buses will run every hour during normal hours.

Memon shared that female drivers will also be appointed in a month. He said that instructions have been given to the National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) and soon the entire staff of the pink bus service will consist of women.

A female passenger takes a selfie while seated inside the Pink Bus at the inauguration ceremony in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — Online
A female passenger takes a selfie while seated inside the Pink Bus at the inauguration ceremony in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — Online 

Recalling the PPP's contribution to women's empowerment in the country at the ceremony, Memon said that the party's leadership has always devised policies to empower women.

He added that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto founded the First Women Bank and female police stations in Pakistan, while party's Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari launched the Benazir Income Support Program during his tenure delegating ownership rights of 25 acres of government land to female farmers.

Women boarding the Pink Bus after the inauguration ceremony in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — Online
Women boarding the Pink Bus after the inauguration ceremony in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — Online

"Society can never progress if women are ignored. It is the responsibility of governments to provide a favourable environment for women and provide them facilities so that women can work side by side with men and contribute significantly to the development of the country," he said.

The transport minister shared that the number of pink buses will increase and the service will extend across Karachi and other major cities of the province. He also lauded the support given by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for executing public transport projects.

Sindh Information and Transport Minister Sharjeel Memon walks in front of Pink Buses at the inauguration ceremony in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — Online
Sindh Information and Transport Minister Sharjeel Memon walks in front of Pink Buses at the inauguration ceremony in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — Online

At the occasion, Ghani said that the bus service has been funded by the public's tax money and appealed to citizens to take care of it as their own property.

"Work on BRT Red Line is in progress and work on Yellow Line project is going to start soon," the labour minister said, highlighting the provincial government's plan to improve Karachi's public transport system.

View of Pink Peoples Bus Service project buses on its way to start the operation of buses after inauguration ceremony in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — PPI
 View of Pink Peoples Bus Service project buses on its way to start the operation of buses after inauguration ceremony in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — PPI

Speaking at the event, female lawmakers deemed the day important for Karachi's women, as the safety of women and commute challenges have been a long-standing problem.

Other prominent attendees of the event lauded the dedicated bus service for ensuring the safety of women and saving them from harassment in public buses. 

Attendees of the inauguration ceremony demanded the services' extension across the city, while the demand for a pink boat service was also shared by Marvi Mazhar for women residing in the city's islands to ensure safe travel facilities for them.

View of Pink Peoples Bus Service project buses on its way to start the operation of buses after inauguration ceremony in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — PPI
View of Pink Peoples Bus Service project buses on its way to start the operation of buses after inauguration ceremony in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — PPI 

The ceremony was attended by provincial lawmakers Sharmila Farooqui, Marvi Rashidi, and Sadia Javed, while renowned filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, architect Marvi Mazhar, TV anchors Madiha Naqvi, Najia Mir and Rabia Anam, actor Ushna Shah, and others were also in attendance.