Govt: Metro rail fare based solely on operating cost

Minimum fare proposed at Tk20, maximum Tk90

The fare for the upcoming metro rail has been proposed solely based on the operating cost of the service, according to government sources.

Officials of the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL), the implementing agency, said the main factors influencing the fare are electricity bills, salaries of staff, and maintenance costs of coaches and other facilities.

A committee on fixing the fare for the Metro rail submitted their proposal to the Road Transport and Highways Division last week. The minimum fare has been proposed at Tk20 and the maximum at Tk90.

As per the proposal, passengers may travel to a maximum of two stations with a minimum fare of Tk20. Passengers must pay Tk10 more for each additional station, with the full length of the track from Uttara to Motijheel costing Tk90.

With the exception of three stations in Uttara, the distance between stations is about a kilometre or less. As a result, the fare ends up at about Tk10 per kilometre.

The seven-member committee on fixing the fare is headed by Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) Executive Director Neelima Akhter.

“Already submitted the draft proposal on the metro rail fare last week to the division concerned. They will now finalize the proposal to send it to the Prime Minister for approval,” Neelima Akhter said.

“The fare was proposed considering various factors, such as the operating cost of the metro rail and the affordability of the people,” she told Dhaka Tribune.

Sources said the fare for the metro rail must be finalized three or four months prior to the launch of the service, as the fare rates need to be entered into the metro rail software for the issuing of smart cards. The metro rail is scheduled to open for traffic on December 16 this year.

“We are prepared to print smart cards for collecting fares for metro rail. Once we get the approved fare rate it will be input into the software before printing a card,” said MAN Siddique, managing director of the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL).

The estimated project cost of the metro rail is Tk21,985.07 crore. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide Tk16,594.59 crore as project aid.

According to DMTCL, the metro rail will run from dawn to dusk once it opens to passengers. Initially, the last train will leave at 11:30pm. Nearly 500,000 people are expected to use the service each day.

How was the fare set?

Nippon Koei (NKDM), a Japanese consulting firm, was involved in setting the fare. In addition to considering electricity, salary, and maintenance costs of the Dhaka Metro Rail, the firm analysed the fares of existing public transports in the Bangladesh capital as well as of metro rail services in other countries.

At present the fare on buses and minibuses in the capital is Tk2.15 and Tk2.50 per km, respectively. The minimum fare is Tk10 for buses and Tk6 for minibuses.

Considering the current rates, the 19.8km journey from Uttara to Motijheel via Mohakhali, Farmgate and Shahbag would cost Tk42 on a bus. However, transport workers regularly charge more than Tk50 for the trip, according to commuters.

The fare for air-conditioned or luxury buses on the same route can be as high as Tk70-100.

There are about 700km of metro rail lines in various cities of neighbouring India. These metro rails charge a minimum of Rs5 (about Tk5.50) and a maximum of Rs60 (Tk67).

Smart card system

According to the plan, metro rail will have two types of tickets: permanent cards and temporary cards. The cards must be swiped at automated gates both when entering and exiting station platforms.

Permanent cards are rechargeable and can be used to travel throughout the year. The card must be bought for Tk200 and can be recharged with amounts ranging from Tk200-10,000.

The permanent cards can be recharged through online transactions or machines at metro rail stations.

On the other hand, temporary cards can only be purchased from metro rail stations and they are locked to a specific destination. The cards will not allow passengers to leave the platform if they are at the wrong destination.

DMTCL Managing Director (MD) MAN Siddique said: “Passengers will drop the temporary card at a machine to open the door. So, the cards can be reused by the authorities.”