Falling in love with bus travel on Green Line.

IT has been exactly one year since the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) began operation in the much longing for a public-transport system in the city of Karachi.

Stepping into the Numaish Station, I peered into my wallet for the rechargeable Breeze card which my colleague had bought for me on our first time covering travel by the bus for this paper. Meanwhile, the colleague himself bought a ticket this time because he had given his own card to his 15-year-old son, who uses the bus more often to visit his grandmother.

'My son has become very independent as far as commuting is concerned thanks to the Green Line. And my wife and I also feel confident about letting him ride the bus on his own,' my colleague tells me.

There are long lines forming at the Numaish Station akin to airport queues waiting to get their boarding passes. 'This is nothing. You should see the lines around 11pm for the last buses,' says someone.

Then riding on the bus you can't help but notice the regular public buses on the roads. Here, too, the bus is full but even those travelling while standing in it look calm and cool. There are no brakes or jerks as the bus rides smoothly on its dedicated track. The air-conditioning is also turned to just the right temperature.

A few students in lab coats are chatting happily. Two girls in the group share with the lone boy an anecdote about a teacher who is fond of eating egg whites only while leaving the yolks behind for others to consume. They are all laughing until one of them readies to get off at the next station. As she leaves, the one seated next to her gestures to a standing passenger to come take the seat.

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There are passengers of all ages, from 15-year-olds to the elderly on the bus. In the men's section, a young man leaves his seat to offer it to an elderly passenger who had just come aboard at another stop.

Several female shoppers get off and on at the Hyderi Station. Most have to stand as the seating for female passengers seems to have fallen short with the popularity of the bus.

Meanwhile, the remaining students get back to their chatting. They discuss which movie to catch and where. They tell Dawn that they are final year medical students at Hamdard University and that they have been taking the Green Line from Numaish every day since it started operation since some of them live on or very near one station or the other.

In the family section...

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