April 4, 2019, Peshawar– Sakura buses will start their operations in Mardan from mid of April 2019. Running form Baghdada Chowk to Abdul Wali Khan University (Garden Campus), the Sakura bus project is a unique of its own kind being the first women-only transport project in Pakistan. The project will uniquely contribute towards the mobility of local women.
Women often don’t feel comfortable while travelling in shared public transport and based on the cultural needs, they usually need an accomplice to travel for education, work and other chores. Therefore, Transport and Mass Transit Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in 2015 with technical support of UNOPS, developed a tailored proposal for the stated need of separate transport facility for women and submitted to various donors. The purpose of this proposal was to ensure safe and culturally suitable transportation services for women beneficiaries. Government of Japan, however, graciously agreed to fund the project that included purchase of 14 buses (7 for each city of Mardan and Abbottabad), establishment of 30 women friendly bus stops (15 in each city of Mardan and Abbottabad) and allied support for project staff. In 2018, KPUMA (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Urban Mobility Authority) mandated TransPeshawar to execute the project. Furthermore, the operation of these buses was outsourced to a Vehicle Operating Company (VoC) locally, which will be monitored by TransPeshawar. TransPeshawar has recently signed a contract for VoC, which is a joint venture of three local firms namely Biztech, Frontier Organization for Reforms & Transformation (FORT), and New Khyber Car Rental Services. The VoC will hire drivers and allied staffs who will run buses as per the provided schedule, and to ensure women-friendly operations and regular maintenance of vehicles. Buses will run 7 days a week for minimum of 40 km per day per bus. In addition, qualified and trained drivers will operate busses to adequately ensure passengers safety and wellbeing. Simultaneously, VoC will also ensure valid vehicle fitness certificates for all buses, however, the fare will be as notified by the local government for the region after inauguration.
Dedicated for women and children up to the height of 0.9 meter, each bus is fully air-conditioned and is equipped with GPS system to track bus location and its speed. All buses are equipped with security cameras that store data via internal Digital Video Recorder (DVR) that can be retrieved for monitoring. All buses will have female conductors who will provide on board tickets, perform security checks and collect fare. With a total capacity of 40 passengers (seating + standing), each bus will also have a wheelchair bay and a separate compartment for driver to avoid any disturbance /unnecessary communication during driving to ensure safe operations.