Inputs into the Karachi Strategic Development Plan (KSDP) 2020 and URC Matters

The URC has been represented by its chairman in the formulation and review of the KSDP 2020. Its inputs especially related to transport, housing and coastal development have been accommodated to a great extent. For the transport sector the URC has argued for the development of rapid bus transit (BRT) as opposed to the light rail transit (LRT). No definite decision has been taken on this issue and both the LRT and BRT figure as options in the plan. The URC’s lobbying has been carried out with the development of a lot of material on the subject. Some of this is given in tables 1 and 2 below.

In the URC’s opinion the light rail projects have failed in most other Third World cities. For example, Manila, Bangkok, Tehran, Cairo, Mexico city have invested in flyovers, expressways, light rail transit (LRT) in a big way. Yet their traffic problems are worse than ours and commuting for the majority is more time consuming than in Karachi and at rush hours not more comfortable. The reasons are:

  1. Transport, traffic planning and land use have not been integrated.
  2. Failure to persuade people to use public transport.
  3. Investment in expensive light rail projects which have proved inappropriate:
    • Because of heavy investment, projects are too small to make a real difference;
    • Require decades to complete;
    • Are expensive to use as compared to buses (in many cases unaffordable for the poor);
    • Cannot easily be extended or added to;
    • Require extensive engineering inputs; and
    • The manner in which corridors for LRT are identified requires a “transfer penalty” for the vast majority of commuters.
  4. The absence of an urban design exercise for building and development projects.
Table 1
Transport Modes / Costs
Mode Cost per Km (in Million) Persons per Hour Comments
Trams US$4 10,000 Appropriate for certain inner city areas
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) US$2.5 32,000 Appropriate for Karachi
Light Rail at grade (segregated) US$12 20,000
Light Rail elevated US$20 – 40 36,000 Appropriate for Karachi (worked out to $ 47 million per km for Corridor I)
Light Rail underground US$40 – 100 40,000
Heavy Rail (suburban) US$10 (minus land costs) Can be upto 72,000
Heavy Rail rehabilitation US$ for Hong Kong Appropriate for Karachi Circular Railway

LRT Coverage

Table – 2 – LRT/BRT Coverage in Different Cities
City Km Built %age of trips catered to Average cost per LRT trip Average cost of bus trip for same distance Time taken to build system
Manila 28.8 8 P 15 P 4 23 years
Bangkok 44 8 B 25 B 6 16 years
Delhi 65 4.8 Rs 10 Rs 5
Mexico 276 22 - 1/3 of LRT 32 years
Cairo 45.3 3.8 - -

BRT Coverage

  • Bogotá: Car rider-ship reduced by about 30 per cent (cancelled LRT and metro in favour of BRT in 2000)
  • Curitiba: Car rider-ship reduced by about 42 per cent
  • Jakarta: (Just 2 corridors so far with no other linkages) 14 per cent reduction on the 2 corridors

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