Existing bus services not capable to meet commuters’ need
Abu Hayat Mahmud

Bus staff are carrying extra passengers cashing in on bus shortage

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The transportation system across the capital falls short of people’s expectation while a great many of them opt in to passenger buses for their daily commute.

The city dwellers look upon bus services more affordable than other modes of transport, virtually missing the mark, according to a study.

Shortage of commuter buses, overcrowding, traffic congestion and harassment are bar to complying with people’s demand, the study finds.

The passengers reading is that the existing mode of transport has out and out failed to meet their need.

Commuters believe that bus staff pick up extra passengers cashing in on the shortage of passenger vehicles, thereby making their daily commute awful.

Despite being a mega city, Dhaka witnesses a limited use of waterways along the river Buriganga, Balu, Turag and Sitalakhya.

Only six waterbuses ply across Sadarghat-Aminbazar route for transporting passengers.

The capital city has so far failed to introduce mass transit system like metro rail or bus rapid transit (BRT) network. However, the government mulls over introducing BRT systems for three major corridors and metro rail for one.

According to the study report published by the Journal of Bangladesh Institute of Planners, the following sections describe the bus commuters’ experience and opinion about the quality of bus services in the capital.

Arrival of buses on time

Only 15% are satisfied about the arrival of bus on time whilst moderate and unsatisfactory are respectively 50% and 35%. Given the availability of local buses, 68% passengers are unsatisfied.

Seats’ availability and overcrowding

The seat capacity in almost all the buses is less than the number of passengers on board. Commuter buses are so crowded that it becomes impossible for older people, women or children to obtain a seat inside a bus. Consequently, these vulnerable groups of people do not have access to bus services during rush hours.

Fare and ticketing

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) decides the rate of bus fare as per the distance passenger vehicles travel. However, almost all commuter buses in Dhaka charge more fare from passengers than the rate prescribed by BRTA.

About 56% of passengers are satisfied with the current ticket price whilst the rest believe that they are paying more than that of the government specified fare rate.

Fitness of buses

Despite the poor condition of commuter vehicles, passengers hardly complain about it because their main concern is only to get a seat inside the bus.

Delay in bus journey

About 80% of passengers reported that besides waiting for buses at stations, they suffer from delay the bus drivers deliberately cause at each bus station to pack more passengers in their vehicles.

Harassment of female passengers

About 62% of female bus passengers said they faced various problems or harassment while travelling by buses.

Sexual harassment of women in a crowded bus is a common problem in the capital city.

Behaviour of bus staff

About behaviour of bus staff members – conductor, helper and driver, about 30% passengers described their behaviour as satisfactory whilst 40% moderate and the remaining 30% bad. Given that in the case of local buses, 83% passengers said they were not satisfied with the behaviour of the bus staff.

Passenger shades and bus accessibility

Among the respondents, almost 46% mentioned that their closest bus stations were within 0.5 km whilst 36% mentioned 0.5 to 1 km and 24% mentioned more than 1 km.

Besides, many bus stations do not offer protection from sun, rain, dust and other elements that have significant implications for health or safety.

Passenger shades are almost absent in Dhaka city. There are a few of them, but virtually occupied by vendors or shop owners, and hardly coming to be of any use for bus passengers.

Bus passengers’ requirements and expectations

Considering the overall situation about the bus service, almost 68% respondents expressed their dissatisfaction while the remaining 32% satisfaction.

Despite having a poor state of bus service, the interviewees only mentioned that they needed more frequent bus services so that they could at least get seats. Their perceptions about better services are centred on facelift of commuter buses.

BRTA Director (Engineering) Saiful Haque told the Dhaka Tribune, “The regulatory body was helpless as there was a shortage of buses and the authority did not have enough manpower to monitor the bus services.”

“If we take tough steps, the owners go on strike and people will suffer,” he said.

The BRTA high-up further said: “We requested the Road Transport Committee several times at meetings that they look into the matter.” 

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