The pilot Ghatarchar-Kanchpur route will cover 15 major areas
Years after the late Annisul Huq put the wheels in motion, the bus franchise system is set to finally begin in Dhaka from April.
The system will be piloted on the Ghatarchar-Kanchpur route from April 1 before gradually being implemented in the rest of the capital. A total of 155 ordinary buses under the Maloncha and Rajanigandha transport companies will participate in the pilot project, as they already operate on the Ghatarchar-Kachpur route.
The franchise system is expected to be a welcome departure from the haphazard system that is currently in place, where dozens of buses operate on the same route with minimal discipline.
The pilot Ghatarchar-Kanchpur route will cover 15 major areas, including Bosila, Mohammadpur, Elephant Road, Shahbagh, Paltan crossing and Motijheel. The pilot project is expected to be completed by December this year.
Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association Secretary General Khandaker Enayet Ullah, who is also a member of the bus route rationalization committee, said: “The selected buses are ordinary and already in operation. Owners of the buses can apply for loans of up to Tk3 lakh to renovate them.”
He also said Bangladesh Bank had already earmarked Tk100 crore for the loans.
As per the proposal of an expert committee, the government has finalized 22 companies and 42 routes in 9 clusters under the franchise system.
Former DNCC mayor Annisul Huq came up with the bus franchise system with the aim of bringing discipline to the public transport sector in 2015.
BRTA proposes hike in bus fare
The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has proposed increasing bus fares for the franchise service by Tk0.50 to a rate of Tk2.20 per kilometre of travel.
The bus route rationalization committee hinted that the increased fares would only apply to buses that were brought under the franchise system, and hence would not be implemented simultaneously across the city.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, who is the head of the committee, said the fares would be higher in order to reflect the higher quality of the service.
“BRTA has proposed the bus fare at Tk2.20 per kilometre for the pilot route from Ghatarchar to Kanchpur. The draft fare will be finalized if approved by the ministry (Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges),” he said after the 16th meeting of the bus route rationalization committee at Nagar Bhaban on Tuesday.
Stakeholders have urged keeping the fares flexible until the franchise system is established.
The franchise system will initially use ordinary buses, so there is no reason to increase the fare immediately, they have said.
Transport specialist Dr Shamsul Hoque, who is a professor at the civil engineering department of BUET, said: “There is still no authorized body for operating franchised bus services, so there will be chaos if we start piloting with such high fares.
“The existing bus route rationalization committee does not have the power to control the fare as well as operate the system,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Mozammel Haque, secretary general of the Bangladesh Passengers’ Welfare Association, said it was not logical to increase fares until the service was comfortable.
Khandaker Enayet Ullah said: “It is important to increase bus fares to make the new initiative successful, as the cost of accessories has increased.”
The proposed hike in bus fares will reduce the gap with the proposed fare for the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) route 6 from Uttara to Kamalapur. The Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) is considering a fare of Tk2.4 per kilometre of travel on the MRT-6.