New minibus fares inside city areas are almost the same as the cost of a rickshaw ride for the same distance
With the government hiking fares of inter-district and long routes (Dhaka, Chittagong cities and adjoining areas) buses and minibuses by 60%, the cost of long-route air-conditioned bus travel has reached the same level as domestic air travel.
Instead of paying the new hiked fares for an air-conditioned bus ride, commuters can now pay the same amount for an air ticket for three domestic routes across Bangladesh and reach their destinations through a much quicker in a hassle-free journey.
For example, an AC bus ticket to and from Dhaka and Chittagong used to cost around Tk1,200. With the new fare hike, these tickets will now cost above Tk2,000.
On the other hand, passengers can travel by air from Dhaka to Chittagong, Sylhet, and Syedpur for a minimum fare of Tk1,600 to Tk1,800.
Not only did long-distance bus fares reach new heights, but new minibus fares inside city areas are almost the same as the cost of a rickshaw ride for the same distance.
Bangladesh Passengers' Welfare Association (BPWA) Secretary General Mozammel Haque said with new fare hike, long-distance AC bus fares now cost as much as air travel and city bus fares are now almost equal to rickshaw fares.
“Corrupt individuals and extortionists will benefit the most from this fare hike,” he claimed.
Airline operators seeking more passengers
As fares of road transport are now almost level with air tickets, local airlines are now gearing up to attract more passengers to recover from the losses they faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Novoair Managing Director Mofizur Rahman said his airline is willing to offer low or promotional ticket prices to retain regular and attract new passengers to recover from the financial losses accrued from the pandemic.
We are keeping the fare low now so that we can get back our regular passengers which will help us reinstate our position to where we were before the pandemic,” he said.
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Secretary Mohibul Haque told Dhaka Tribune that a meeting of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) will be held on Wednesday to finalise the new fare rate of Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshall M Mafidur Rahman said passengers will now opt for air travel for a safe and hassle-free journey following the bus fare hike.
“But to make a profit, airline operators must keep higher prices for their tickets,” said CAAB chief.
TIB: Powerful transport lobby puts more burden on passengers
The Bangladesh chapter of Berlin-based anti-graft campaigner Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has said that the fare hike of road transport was clearly driven unsurprisingly by an ever-powerful road transport lobby, known for their capacity to hold the system hostage and have once again put the whole burden on the passengers who are already in jeopardy.
“It remains to be seen if and to what extent the unscrupulous transport workers, ruthlessly backed by their own and their owners’ associations, will care for compliance of the lofty conditions like half-capacity passenger load and restoration of pre-hike fare after the restoration of normalcy,” said TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman.