Why it is wrong to Compare PIA with Metro Bus Project

Metro and PIA

Raza Habib Raja

Right now the issue which is consuming many on the social media is the privatization of PIA. Many are angry that PIA is being privatized including those who have always castigated it in the past for being substandard in fact often preferring to fly on foreign airlines.

Suddenly, the way media has been projecting this issue in the spotlight has made PIA a darling of many. Some are also comparing losses of Metro bus project with that of PIA and using that to argue against the privatization of the latter.

On the surface, it is easy to make a claim that if PIA is in losses, then so is Metro Bus and therefore our criteria should be similar. Either both should be privatized or alternatively kept under government ownership.  However, this  is over simplistic and completely false analogy.

Airline is an elite way of travelling whereas Metro Bus comes under the bracket of urban mass transit. Both are completely different.

To give a proper perspective, in USA which is more of a capitalist country, most of the urban mass transit projects are in operating losses. However, since mass transit is a public good and it benefits a large number of people on a daily basis, therefore government is ready to bear losses. Yes, in theory you can privatize that also but most of the time governments do not do that mainly because private sector won’t be able to bear losses and will eventually have to cut routes drastically in order to remain viable. In fact urban mass transit is so expensive to set up that generally only governments can undertake that kind of investment. In short urban mass transit is where there is some rational sense for the government to bear losses.

On the other hand, airlines are a separate issue. World over airlines are owned privately or by global conglomerates. Yes, many countries have publicly owned airlines also but either they are rich enough to sustain losses or their owned airlines are not overstaffed and inefficient.

Now let’s come to PIA. It is overstaffed, inefficient and running into huge losses. Furthermore it is not even benefiting a huge mass of people other than a few thousand  employees who would naturally want to retain their perks and privileges. Those who travel of PIA come from affluent class and they can continue to travel on it even after its privatization.

I fully admit that present government is as much of a guilty party in mismanagement of PIA but at some point we have to rectify the problems. Partial privatization is one way of doing that. Rather than opposing it without any proper logic, our job should be to ensure that PIA employees should be properly compensated and the privatization process is kept open and transparent.

The amount which government is spending on sustaining a while elephant like PIA ( which is not even benefiting a large number of people) can be spent somewhere else and in a much more productive manner. In fact ever since the launch of Metro Bus project, I have constantly heard -mostly from PTI supporters- that the money could have been spent on education and health. In my opinion the case for diverting the money to health and education from a white useless elephant like PIA is way more stronger! I am surprised that they are not using the same logic.

With respect to Metro Bus, I agree that the project could have been designed better and in a more cost efficient manner or that price should be raised to make it sustainable. However, if its ticket price is raised too much then the entire purpose of the project is lost. By its very nature, urban mass transit projects often have to bear losses. These are  not designed to be financially self-sustainable because the central objective is to benefit a large number of lower income people and also reduce traffic congestion. In some ways, it is like a government subsidy.

A project like Metro Bus enables ordinary people to save a substantial amount of money in daily commute. This may not benefit government directly ( as the Metro is operating under losses) but nevertheless helps the economy by improving the purchasing power of the ordinary people. Yes, this fact can not be appreciated or even understood by many of my friends who come from affluent class and therefore their criteria to measure Metro Bus and PIA is the same.  In reality comparing the two is completely meaningless.


  • shafiz1


    The blasphemy law and terrorism

    Asking for the repeal of the blasphemy laws is not about wishing to deny people the right to feel offended or to defend their beliefs; these rights should be available for the religious and the non-believer alike. And this is what it finally comes down to: feelings, beliefs and opinions

  • NH

    Very rational and logical article.

  • SN

    Dear RHR: You cleaned up PTH of all these trolls didn’t you. Good job, but where are the readers’ comments anyway?

  • k_rash

    The difference is only in scale. PIA is losing a lot more money than the Metro Bus. But the principal is the same. If the govt. has to spend money out of its own pocket to sustain an activity then it is essentially a misallocation of resources. Metro Bus should be privatized too. PIA, though, is a higher priority because of the scale of losses.

  • SN

    Saadh. آپ کیوں PTH میں مکمل پیمانے پر مضامین لکھ نہیں آپ ڈیلی ٹائمز میں پھیلا تھا. یہ ویچارشیل تھا.

  • Majumdar

    SN sb,

    The new format has not only cleaned off the trolls but also the regulars. Baby, bathwater and the rest…..


  • Nuree


    Dada, Which card should a dalit woman play who is married to a Muslim & whose father is poor?

  • teknika

    Every religion, esp. islam, hurts the feelings and safety of the non-believers through its lies and threats.

  • engrich
  • Nuree

    Anti-Hindu march in Pakistan. Banner says, “Hindus deserve only one ‘treatment’: Al-Jihad, Al-Jihad”.

    But we Hindus are repeatedly told.. Jihad is inner fight.. jihad is awakening.. Jihad is PEACE

  • Nuree

    Perpetrators of sex crimes should be classed as ‘Pakistani Muslims not Asians’ says Sikh organisation


  • Nuree
  • Nuree

    How the JNU founded an anti-Hindu Asura religion by roping in innocent tribes. Read trueindology.wordpress.com

  • Nuree

    Investigation by local authorities suggests that Soni Sori attack was a stage-managed drama. http://m.timesofindia.com/city/raipur/Bastar-DMs-FB-post-on-Soni-Sori-raises-eyebrows/articleshow/51169531.cms

  • Nuree
  • engrich

    jihad never asked any innocent to kill.except few dalits no hindu migrated to india inspite of very bad situation in pakistan.killing weak comes under teachings of kautilya not jihad.baloch has very good future in pakistan.

  • engrich

    any proof.

  • engrich

    in bardawn tribals take out anti durga processsion every year.

  • engrich

    tarek hindus are invaders have no indian DNA they have jewish dna.muslims beng convert from dalits and shudras have true indian dna.u cannot be hindu.hindu is born not coverted.

  • engrich
  • Nuree

    Yesterday saw Bangladeshis supporting Pakistan in a cricket match against India. It was like a rape victim supporting a rapist.

  • Nuree

    The Ishrat Jahan revelations has made me admire Sonia’s political instincts. She recognized Modi as Threat No 1 years before anyone else did. She didn’t go after any other BJP guy. Focused only on destroying Modi. She has learnt her politics not from Indira Gandhi but from the Italian mafia.

  • teknoc

    DNA and skin color etc. are unimportant.
    What is important is : to whom do you have your loyalty?
    The muslim may have indian DNA, but his loyalty is to arabic imperialism-racism and islamic fascism. He is a bootlicker and quisling of arab and turk invaders, rapists and marauders.

    engrich tea house will always propagate this engrich idea that muslims are the real hindus(=indians).
    But one who wishes to import and impose arab racism and imperialism and islamic fascism cannot be a hindu or indian.

    engrich wants to impose arab racism on India. whoever is against this fascist arab religion (called islam) is the true indian.
    DNA are not decisive.

  • engrich