BRT Peshawar losses increased to Rs 1.88 billion during financial year 2020-21

 BRT Peshawar is consuming more subsidy than Multan and Rawalpindi Metro Buses

The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Peshawar has made deficit of Rs 1.882 billion during the last financial year 2020-21.  While a deficit of Rs 2.79 billion was estimated for the current financial year 2021-22.

The Peshawar BRT faced a total deficit of over Rs 4.673 billion during the last two years and the provincial government was bearing it through subsidies. The KPK government had claimed when started the operations of BRT Peshawar that BRT will not require any subsidies because it will be

able to meet its expenses through different commercial projects.  KPK government also claimed that no comparison should be drawn between BRT Peshawar with Lahore or Rawalpindi metro Buses as they are loss making services.

PTI leaders were against providing subsidy to the metro buses operating in Punjab. PTI government in Punjab increased fares of Metro buses from Rs 20 to Rs 30 to cut some subsidy. But now PTI government in KPK is providing subsidy to BRT Peshawar to keep the fares downs. 

The governments across the globe provide subsidy to public transport system for affordable and comfortable travel. Subsidy is not a criminal act. The neoliberal economists and experts oppose and criticise the subsidy and relief provided to ordinary people but support  the relief and subsidies provided to capitalist class and big business.  

They justify state resources for big business to increase their profits and wealth but oppose subsidies provided to help the working and poor people. We are not against subsidy provided anywhere in the country to provide cheap transport services. It is necessary to provide cheap public transport to workers and students.     

Now officials are saying that BRT Peshawar was consuming more subsidies than Rawalpindi and Multan metro buses. The Trans-Peshawar sources confirmed that the main reason for the deficit was the subsidy paid to passengers on tickets.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government had claimed that the BRT would not need any subsidy for its operations. Provincial Minister for Transport Shah Mohammad Wazir told The News correspondent Arshad Aziz Malik that on the special directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, fares had been kept very low, so that passengers could be given relief. The subsidies could be reduced by increasing the rate of BRT fares, but it would be a burden on the people, he added.

The fare of old buses was Rs 60-70, but the government kept the ticket for the 27.5 km route is only Rs 50 to facilitate people. The Covid-19 sanctions had reduced the number of passengers. But as the conditions improve, the number of passengers would increase again,” he hoped. While the fare of 27 km long Lahore Metro Bus is Rs 30. Which is cheaper than BRT Peshawar.  

In reply to a question, he said that BRT’s three commercial plazas were being constructed currently, which would generate significant revenue for the company in terms of monthly rent. 

According to official statistics, the PTI government inaugurated the much-awaited Peshawar BRT on Aug 14, 2020. In the first 10 months of the last financial year, the total expenditure was Rs 1.922 billion, while only Rs 399 million was collected from passengers in terms of fares. As a result, deficit of Rs 1.882 billion was incurred during the last financial year.

The provincial government paid Rs 1.752 billion to Trans Peshawar to meet the deficit, while the Asian Development Bank paid only Rs 130 million to Trans Peshawar. According to documents, the Trans Peshawar is facing a deficit of Rs 2.798 billion during the current financial year.

 The company was expected to earn a total of Rs 121.6 million through the sale of tickets during the current financial year, while the company had a balance of Rs 56.9 million from the Asian Development Bank. Thus, the total revenue was estimated at Rs 178.6 million.

Similarly, the total expenditure of BRT during the current financial year had been estimated at Rs 2.969 billion, thus a deficit of Rs 2.790 billion was expected in 2021-22. To cover the current financial deficit of BRT, the provincial government allocated Rs 2.747 billion in the budget, while the Asian Development Bank would also provide Rs 43 million to reduce the BRT deficit.

Muhammad Umair Khan, a spokesperson for Trans Peshawar, told the media that at least 38 million passengers travelled by BRT buses in a year from August 14, 2020, to August 14, 2022. The minimum cost for a ticket is Rs 10 and the highest costing ticket is Rs 50. The BRT service provided a quality mass transit system to the dwellers of the provincial capital. However, the spokesman declined to comment on the account and budget details.

The KPK government has already refused to provide full details of expenditures and income of BRT Peshawar to KPK assembly. The KPK government should provide all the financial details to ensure transparency. The opposition parties already demanding investigation into alleged corruption and wrongdoing in the construction of BRT Peshawar.   

                                                                     Khalid Bhatti 


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