Another double-decker tourist bus service on the maps

Another double-decker tourist bus service is planned for the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, which is expected to start in July this year by the Punjab Tourism Department.

The first double-decker tourist bus service was launched on August 18, 2020 by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar.

The initiative suffered some operational hits initially due to Covid-19 related issues. However, it is now doing a great job and despite subsidized fares for passengers, the service generates sufficient financial resources.

The bus route stretches over 42 kilometers with tourist spots along the way including Allama Iqbal (Rawalpindi) Park, Faisal Mosque, Blue Zone, Constitution Avenue, Lake View Park, Garden Rose and Jasmine, the Shakarparian and Pak monuments and the Lok Virsa museum.

Allama Iqbal Park, located on Murree Road, houses the terminal for the bus service. The Faisal Mosque, another landmark on the route, is a major tourist attraction in Islamabad and is considered a contemporary and influential feature of Islamic architecture.

On Constitution Avenue, a number of government buildings that can be seen along the road include the Aiwan-e-Sadr, Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office, Supreme Court of Pakistan and some others.

The Rose and Jasmine Garden, a recreation spot in Islamabad, located near Aabpara Sports Complex on Kashmir Road, is also on the designated route. The Pakistan Monument, a national monument and heritage museum located in the Western Shakarparian Hills, also falls on the route of the transport service.

The double-decker bus has a capacity of 66 tourists, 48 ​​for the upper deck while the remaining 18 for the lower deck of the bus. Generally, he makes one or two trips a day. The first trip starts at 10 a.m. and the second trip is scheduled for 3 p.m. provided that at least 15 commuters are available for the trip. The bus service also takes a 45 minute break at Lake View Park and another 45 minute break at Pak Monument.

Naveed Anjum, the project manager of the tourist bus service, told Bol News that at first, due to pandemic restrictions, the bus service was not performing as expected. However, he said that for the past six months, the service has met its expenses.

He said a total number of nine staff, including the manager, driver, assistant, guide, two guards, etc., have been delegated by the tourism department to the project. He also informed that so far around 12,000 tourists have already enjoyed the facility.

He said the government provides a facility grant to promote local tourism. He also said that the return fare for the bus service is 400 rupees per tourist.

According to Anjum, after seeing the general public’s interest in the bus service, the government has planned to launch another double-decker service on the same route.

The project manager said that recently during the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Foreign Ministers meeting in Islamabad, UNDP reserved the bus service for the envoys who thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Anjum said bookings for family tours, educational tours, corporate tours, etc. can also be carried out with regard to the tourist service. He also said that exclusive reservation of the bus service can be done by depositing Rs25,000.

However, he said, the department offers discounts for special children and for children with thalassemia. He informed that free pick up and drop off services are provided to these children.

He said a similar bus service was started in Lahore by the Punjab Tourism Department and he also started the same service for Bahawalpur a year ago. Furthermore, he informed that the department is also planning to launch the tourist bus service for other cities in the province including DG Khan, Faisalabad and Multan.

The bus station has a waiting lounge for tourists where they can enjoy the scenic view along the busy Murree, Rawalpindi road. The height of the double decker transporter is about 14.3 feet which is the international standard and can run on any road in Rawalpindi or Islamabad according to the standard height. The lower deck of the bus has an air conditioning installation which is essential during summer days.

Melvin Z. Madore