Public Transport in Karachi Sees A Reduction of 12,500 Mini Buses in 9 Years

Public transport has been getting worse in the commercial hub of the country, Karachi, as nearly 12,500 mini-buses have stopped operating in merely nine years, a study from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) stated.

The size of the bus fleet in Karachi has been declining as the number of mini-buses in the city has also fallen from 22,000 in 2010-11 to around 9,500 at present.

The deficit of public transport has caused inconvenience to commuters at large, however, alternate options such as private vehicles (cars and bikes), carpooling ride services, and rickshaws are replacing the buses to meet the need of the public.

The existing buses are overcrowded and have become highly risky and uncomfortable for the public, as around 45 passengers compete for a single bus seat in Karachi, compared to just 8 passengers in Hong Kong, China, and 12 passengers in Mumbai.

The roads are also overcrowded. To be specific, 110 percent of the total capacity of roads in Karachi is utilized, as implied by an average volume-to-capacity road traffic ratio of 1.1.

In terms of the number of vehicles on the roads, public transport has a share of 5 percent, while cars and motorcycles have a share of 84 percent. Yet, it is public transport that shoulders the burden of 42 percent of travelers, while cars and motorcycles only account for 40 percent of the commuters.

Alternate Ways of Commuting in Karachi

When public transport fails to meet the demand, citizens prefer owning and commuting via private vehicles instead. This idea receives support from the data, with sales of passenger cars, motorcycles and three-wheelers all on an upward trajectory for the past few years.

Carpooling services particularly Uber and Careem have been popular among middle and lower-middle income groups. These services offer rides not only through cars but by rickshaw and now bike as well.

Future Outlook

According to the SBP study quoting World Bank’s statistics, an estimated 8,000 additional buses are required to meet the immediate demand alone. The introduction of various transport systems such as Orange Bus and the proposed Karachi Circular Railway may help meet the deficit of public transport in Karachi.

These projects will not be enough and more such projects should be introduced. Ideally, public transport should replace private transport in the city which will improve the overall environment of the city with fewer carbon emissions and also reduce the consumption of petroleum products that will also ultimately ease the burden on the imports bill.


  • Normal commute time for 25km in 2010-11 was 45 Minutes. Current commute time is 1 hour during off-peak hours, 1.30 hour during average traffic conditions and best is 2 hours during peak hours. It’s getting worst and worst day-by-day. May Allah bless the people of Karachi as the Govt Officials has already undertaken the oath to kill Karachites through excessive commute time. It becomes hell in Summer. I have seen families on Bikes wandering on roads between Cars which release extreme heat fumes. Have seen bikers get unconscious due to intense heat. Have seen car drivers get frustrated due to harsh traffic. I have seen Ambulances stuck in jammed traffic for hours :(

    This is is the story which happened yesterday, is happening today, will continue tomorrow and will repeat on the day after tomorrow and so on…

    • Those commute times are way off. When I was working from 09-12 my commute time was 1.5 hours for 8 kilometres (during peak hours), and 30-45 minutes when I went to the office in the morning (non-peak hours). These minibuses are agonizingly slow.

  • Rapidly rising population and declining number of buses. Great!

    On the flip side maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. These so-called mini buses are fire hazards on 4 wheels because of their poor conditions and CNG cylinders under passenger seats. There’s no way to quickly exit the bus in case of accidents/fire so they’re basically cages. These buses should be banned.

  • Thanks Mr. Abdul Rahman for the study/recommendations on the Karachi Transport, which has created the worst situation. A study from WHO, Geneva mentioned the worst pollution in Karachi due to cars in the city. It stated cars should be stopped with immediate effect to control the pollution of the city, with bicycle track be laid in the city for cycling. Buses/transport should ideally run on solar energy backed by power banks/fast charging stations on Li-Ion batteries, which are noiseless, zero pollution, economical to purchase, and operate. The App., for bus operation would be used from cell phone app., which will purchase ticket, seat, or monthly pass. Buses will be covered by group accident insurance by transporters which will provide treatment from Govt., and private hospital in trauma/accident. Uber just launched an IPO in Wall Street for urban transportation. Safe, economical transport may be considered by Uber if approached by the respective authorities for transport solution, backed by satellite imagery controlling traffic, Road Safety Violation. It is most essential to observe the Decade of Road Safety at crossing, with markings, and full muncipal support.

    • Road Not Proper,
      High Expense in Maintenance
      Spares Theft Issues
      Strike Ya Hangama Main Yahi Bus Jala Dete hai
      Bribes to Police Man
      Low Income

      Ek Driver Se Zaida to Tandoor Wala Kama Leta hai Yaha Karachi Main.


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