The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is an internationally recognized commuting system for the general public which allows people to travel easily through buses. This mass transit project was pioneered in 1982 in Brazil where it showed promising results and now it is used in Mexico, Beijing, Jakarta, Istanbul and Los Angeles among other cities. BRT made its way to Pakistan in 2017 after the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) showed interest in improving the transport system for the locals of its provincial capital in Peshawar. Multiple surveys were conducted and the results were all assuring the success of the megaproject.
A 26 km track was proposed and passed for the project which unlike Metro projects starts from the outskirts of Peshawar in Chamkani and ends in the far end of Peshawar near the border of the newly merged district of Khyber. Many people are comparing BRT with the Metro projects initiated in the previous governments which is wrong. This article is for the lot which makes the wrong comparison and specially for the people who have been residents or frequent visitors of Peshawar. People interested in exploration through tourism can also find a goldmine of information here. The overseas Pakistanis belonging to Peshawar can get brick by brick information here as well.
Starting in the scenic Chamkani, the BRT begins its uncompromised dedicated track with a huge extra area available for a pipeline project which includes reallocating the Haji Camp bus station near the first BRT station. Without disturbing the heavy traffic flow, the passengers in the buses would reach the second station near the ZTBL provincial headquarters. From there the bus would rapidly reach its next station while by-passing the heavy traffic area of ring road. Many bus terminals destined for different national cities are just out the station door.
In mere minutes, the next station of Haji Camp bus terminal will be waiting for the commuters. The decades old terminal is acting as a hub for the travelers of cities both near like Mardan and Sawabi, and far like Islamabad, Lahore Quetta and Karachi. The well known Niazi Travels and Daewoo travels terminals are also in the vicinity. Special brail tracks (for passengers who are visually impaired) have been installed in every bus station just like in the next station of Gulbahar where the residential colonies of Gulbahar and City Police Lines will be easily accessible for the commuters. Moving on to the next station under a dedicated bridge in the BRT project, will reach another WIFI enabled bus station of Hashtnagri. A centre with both business and historical importance, this place offers access to the decades old business communities and centuries old Hashtnagri Gate. The gate is one of the ancient gates which used to surround and protect the old city of Peshawar.
One very important feature of the project are the smooth tracks for the passengers using wheelchairs. Every station will allow them to get on to the stations and the busses with comfort and ease. The next station belongs to Firdous area where a sea of tourism spots along with another business continent will await the passengers. 119 years old Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) and the marvelous Heritage Trail specially designed for tourists can also be visited here along with the majestic glory of Sethi House. The wood work and the craftsmanship in Sethi House are really breathtaking. Gor Gathri Tehsil with its ancient steam powered engine fire brigade vehicle can be enjoyed with a tasty breakfast of the famous dish Siri Pae. The same Firdous bus station offers another tourism heaven of the Great Fort Bala Hisar built in 1526 and Masjid Mahabat Khan constructed in the Mughal era 1630, both at walking distances. The historic Jinnah Park also will be awaiting the passengers waving the biggest national flag in the province 24/7.
A dedicated bus station will be there for the biggest hospital in the province, the Lady Reading Hospital. Apart from facilitating thousands of patients from all over the province, the hospital building itself is a marvel of construction and preservation. Being constructed in 1924, the main hospital building provides a scenic proof of ancient craftsmanship at its best while residing in the silent backyard of the Great Fort Bala Hisar.
Moving on to the next station in the Wi-Fi enabled buses we would reach another goldmine for tourists, historians and businessmen altogether. The famous Qissa Khawani Bazar and Khyber Bazar will open their doors with huge wholesale markets of various equipment and secret spots of delicious local cuisine sold in centuries old buildings and shops. The international brand of "Khan Chappal" or "Charsadda Chapli" famous for their beautiful designs and sturdiness could also be bought in the nearby areas. Namak Mandi, the famous delicious meat and beef cuisines centre is also at a distance of mere footsteps. The next bus station on the route will come up at the Valhalla of motor mechanics. The great Shoba Bazar. Offering awesome custom modifications and the best repairing services for engines of all vehicles, this market is a national hub for mechanics and engine enthusiasts.
Moving on and the track would reach another medical epicenter in the city for diagnosis and treatments. The Dabgari Garden area, which is made approachable through a separate station where commuters can visit the vicinity and also take a by-walk detour and reach the Peshawar museum in mere minutes. This short walk will also put one in the close quarters of the Peshawar High Court, Peshawar Jail and all the official secretariats in the city. A specially elevated lane for bikes and cycles will also be running below the main route from Fort Bala Hisar till this station allowing the commuters to avail the park and ride facility. The commuters would be able to park their private vehicles in the massive parking plaza being built at Dabgari Station and use either the rapid bus service or the bike trail. This feature itself is a pioneer and is nowhere to be seen in any of the Metro projects. The first feeder route will also join the main corridor in this vicinity which will be bringing passengers from the heavily populated areas of Kohat Road and Ring Road.
The next bus station would reach after main corridor crosses the Saddar Dry Port and Cantt Railway Station in elevation and reach the Peshawar Press Club. Many other important offices like provincial HQ of RTI, RTS, EOBI and Benevolent funds will be brought to walking distance through this station.
The next terminal on the corridor will approach near the well known “Sunehri Masjid” or the "Golden Mosque" and the famous fish point of Nothia. Here the elevated track will continue its route parallel to the traffic crammed Saddar Mall Road which will offer the travelers to bypass all the hustle and bustle. People travelling to the residential society of Gulberg, Cantt Police Station, the General Hospital and the Shafi Market which is a heaven of ladies garments, can use the next station which resides on the still elevated track turning towards the main Saddar Station. Here commuters would gain access to the famous Bilour Plaza, United Plaza and Time Centre for their needs related to cell phones and other gaming hobbies. The station will also have the second feeder route which will connect the area of Swati Phatak and the National Qayyum Cricket Stadium. This feeder route will remove the decades old drivers unaware of any traffic rules along with their bribery acquired driving licenses and apparently centuries old Bedford buses which are famous as rockets for two main reasons. One, their ruthless driving and second, their immensly old and outdated engines which even after being treated for smoke production, still produces a lot of smoke; hence the name rockets. They will be no more.
From here the elevated track would make its next stop at Derwesh Masjid which is one of the biggest mosques in the city. Moreover the station will increase the accessibility of the centuries old and world renowned churches of St. Johns built in 1860 and St. Michael’s Catholic Church built in 1851. The Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar will also be in walking distance from this station. This hospital itself holds its building date before the 1920's.
With all weather friendly comfortable bus stations, the passengers would board the buses calmly and patiently. This would free them from the current impatient bus and wagon conductors. The well trained and educated drivers will be operating the well maintained buses with the least amount of carbon footprint.
Further along the track, the third feeder route will connect the once hard to approach area of the Bacha Khan International Airport from where international flights will be taking off 24/7 in the near future. The specially designed buses with doors opening to both left and right sides, with left side for the feeder route stations and right side for the main corridor stations will be making dedicated stops for airport passengers along with people traveling to and from the areas of Custom Village, and another block of the lengthy Ring Road. The elevated section starting from Fort Bala Hisar will come to ground level and then to a connecting underground hub at the Aman Chowk where the second reach of the BRT project will end.
The fourth feeder route will join from Khyber Road which will be a shortcut from Fort Bala Hisar directly connecting to Aman Chowk. This feeder route will cover the areas of High Court, the Golf Court, Governor House, CM House and KPPSC among other important offices. The schools centre in Peshawar, Warsak Road and the defense officer’s colony will also be covered by this feeder route. After the hub in Aman Chowk, the track will race to the modern part of the city and to avoid affecting the traffic, it will have its next station on a small section of elevation in Tehkal's densely populated area. The stairs to all the elevated stations have been custom designed which cater to the needs and location of every bus station separately.
The next few bus stations in the third reach of the BRT will swiftly transport people along the busy University Road and famous shops for wood furniture, food, the laptop heaven (Gul Haji Plaza), academies, garments and residential areas like Abdara and old Bara Road. Passing through the busy business centers in the extended and widened roads, the next stations will be helpful for patients as they are positioned for Kuwait Hospital and the second biggest hospital in the city, Khyber Teaching Hospital.
The lush green University Of Peshawar and other higher education institutes like Agricultural University, University Of Engineering and Technology (UET) among others are also having two stations dedicated near the legendary Islamia College of Peshawar and Agricultural Training Institute.
The people of Tajabad, DHA Peshawar, Nasir Bagh Road and other housing colonies get their own dedicated stations after which the track enters the residential continent of Hayatabad. A huge bus depot will be operating in Hayatabad which will be one of the three depots of BRT. With two feeder routes allocated for this vast area, the track will pass by the beautiful Bagh-e-Naraan Park, HQ of Peshawar Development Authority, Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC), provincial HQ of Higher Education Commission and Shoukat Khanam Hospital among other medical institutes like Rehman Medical Institute (RMI) and North West Hospital. The third largest hospital in the city, Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) will also come in reach with this project.
From Hayatabad, the BRT main route will speed ahead on another elevated section towards the famous Karkhano Markets parallel to the Industrial State of Peshawar. With two stations dedicated for these markets, the travelers will get access to heavens of wholesale markets for everything from needles to ready for living containers.
The BRT main corridor will eventually come to ground level near the recently merged district of Khyber and will merge with another feeder route entering Hayatabad while passing through the industrial zone. People can buy amazing stuff for sale at the famous Sitara Market and also enjoy the delicious meat cuisines of former FATA.
In short, this mega project is going to cover the complete city providing a rapid mode of transportation that is both easy to access and comfortable to use. Moreover, the increasing vehicle population is also expected to be controlled as the project covers each and every section of the roads in the city. From universities to tourist points, from every major hospital to the world renowned food spots, from the old business hubs to the new and modern residential continents. People from each and every profession will be able to use the project and commute easily. Unlike the Metro projects in the other cities of the country, the BRT will also provide feeder routes to pick up passengers from far off areas. The project will also help in curing the dust problem of the city as the landscaping section included in the project unlike Metro, will improve the air condition of the city. It’s only a matter of time, when the project is completed and people see its true potential.