Buses seamed to have died out in Islamabad a couple of years ago. Sure, there are the vans and mini-buses, but not the large, spacious things you would find in another city. I rarely use the local public transport here, but today decided to give the new service a try. Varan already has buses running on different routes in Rawalpindi and have now started running between the Islamabad Secretariat and Rawalpindi’s Sadar area, covering two whole cities.
To attract customers (and probably to kill off the smaller vans that are the main form of public transportation in Islamabad), they are charging a measly 5 rupees to go anywhere along the route and running a bus every five minutes or so. Quite amazing to see both the previous and the next bus from the bus you’re sitting in. Now that’s about 9 yen or 9 cents to go across that whole distance with optimal frequency. I doubt any small-time transporter will be able to survive this assault.
The service is a vaste improvement compared to earlier ones. The vehicles are new and clean, the ticket conductor wears a uniform and hands out a ticket (with others, you just pay the fare without any concept of tickets) and the drivers don’t try to race with each other (common cause of accidents). While nowhere near the level of convenience and comfort of Singapore buses (ooh I miss those), I was quite satisfied.
The only thing to worry about is what happens when they have killed off everyone else. Off course a price hike is imminent, but will they maintain the same level of service or will it degrade just like the previous ones? I hope not and looking at how things are progressing these days, there’s lots of hope.