PESHAWAR: The Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit System known as Zu Peshawar has secured another prestigious international award as the Institute for Transport and Development Policy unveiled the winners of the Sustainable Transport Award (STA) for this year. Peshawar received an honorable mention for its innovative Bus Industry Restructuring Programme (BIRP), a significant initiative aimed at restructuring and revitalizing the public transport system in the city.

Implemented by TransPeshawar, the BIRP initiative involved the scrapping of 504 outdated vehicles, which were replaced with modern, climate-friendly diesel-hybrid buses. This initiative has resulted in a safer, more inclusive, accessible, and environment-friendly transport system for the residents of Peshawar. Notably, nominations for this prestigious award included several outstanding projects from around the world, such as those from India, Argentina, UAE, Brazil, Colombia, Turkey, and China.

This honorable mention marks the fifth international recognition for BRT Peshawar reflecting its unparalleled services and standards. Previously the project has been recognized as the first Gold Standard BRT system in South Asia, and the seventh in the world. The project also received an honorable mention in the 2022 STA Awards. This year, the recognition is for the Bus Industry Restructuring Program, while in 2022, it was awarded for Zu Peshawar, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

In addition, the project also received the Best Smart Ticketing Program Award from Transport Ticketing global in 2022 and was selected as one of the five finalists for the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Prize for Cities Award carrying a cash prize of USD 25000.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) TransPeshawar, Dr. Tariq Usman has said that the BRT project has not only been a source of honor but has also built a positive image for Peshawar globally, achieving five remarkable international recognitions within three years of operations. This is an honor for TransPeshawar, the entire city, the province, and the country as a whole.” He added that environmental considerations played a pivotal role in the BIRP initiative. For passenger safety and environmental well-being, it was crucial to identify and replace vehicles, which were more than 30 to 40 years old, and had reached the end of their operational life. These outdated vehicles posed hazards to both passengers and the surroundings.

By scrapping 504 of these vehicles and introducing modern, climate-friendly diesel-hybrid buses, we have not only improved safety but also significantly reduced the environmental impact of the old transport system." With regard to the previous vehicle owners and employees of the former public transport system, Dr. Tariq Saeed said, “The project was carried out with utmost transparency where the vehicles were identified based on their age and condition. Owners of these vehicles were duly compensated for the value of their assets, and they also received one year's compensation as business loss.

This approach ensures fairness and demonstrates our dedication to a smooth transition. Moreover, employees from the old system were seamlessly integrated into the new system, providing them with better amenities and ensuring continuity in their livelihoods."

Saddaf Kamil, Spokesperson for TransPeshawar said, “The BIRP initiative, stands as a comprehensive model for sustainable urban development, prioritizing environmental responsibility alongside social inclusivity. This recognition highlights not just the success of our transit system but also its positive impact on the lives of those who depend on it." Peshawar was chosen for the Honorable Mention among the five finalists which also included Turkey, China, Albania, and Brazil.

According to the official STA website (www.staward.org), “Peshawar was previously recognized as a 2022 STA honorable mention for the region’s innovative work on Zu Peshawar, the first Gold Standard BRT on the Sub-Continent Peninsula, which continues to improve public transport access for women, people with disabilities, and young people. Since that recognition, the Peshawar Bus Industry Restructuring Programme (BIRP) has not only laid the foundation for the BRT system but is also expanding the possibilities for public transport across the region.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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