Public buses carry 75% passengers in Chittagong City but occupy only 17% of road where private cars, that carry only 5% passengers occupy 29% road space, a survey shows.
The revelation was made in a recently conducted survey to help prepare a 10-year master plan – Chittagong Strategic Urban Transport Master Plan – for traffic management of the port city.
Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) embarked upon the project in collaboration with the World Bank. Consulting firm “e.Gen Consultants Ltd” conducted the survey from October 2016 to July 2017.
According to the survey, 5.9 million trips are made every day in Chittagong City and 71% of the passengers use public transport as the main mode of transportation.
Private vehicles account for only 6% of all trips while 83% people do not have access to a private motor vehicle.
The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) said 200,985 vehicles had been registered in the port city between 1990 and August 31, 2017.
Of them, 24,903 are auto rickshaws, 2,297 auto tempos, 1,496 buses, 3,260 human haulers, 2,383 minibuses, 10,160 trucks, 30,830 private cars, 179 cargo vans, 3,034 covered vans, 1,947 delivery vans, 12,986 microbuses, 2,787 taxicabs and 7,427 pickups.
Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) sources say, out of 1,066km road network under CCC's purview, only 300km is the major thoroughfares and the rest are feeder roads.
Road space not effectively used
The survey revealed that road space was not used effectively in the city.
Findings show that rickshaws and auto-rickshaws carry 6% of the total passengers but occupy 27% road space.
Tempos, human haulers and intracity buses occupy 6%, 7% and 3% respectively of the total road space in Chittagong City.
Average vehicle speed very low
Urban transport experts say the usual speed of buses in the city should be 40km/h but in Chittagong it is between 10.3km/h and 13.9km/h.
The speed of cars or general vehicles is high (18.3km/h) during AM period but much slower (10.7km/h) in the PM period.
Lorries, motorbikes and pickups have the highest speed during both periods. Tempos and human haulers are a bit faster than buses but slower than private modes of transportation.
Public transport a discomfort for women commuters
As many as 616 women were asked about the biggest challenge facing women in terms of public transport?
Sixty-percent respondents said the comfort was poor and the lack of reserved seating arrangements for women in public transports was a big issue.
Nineteen percent women said they were harassed by other passengers. Four percent expressed discomfort due to the drivers of the public transports. Six percent said the drivers refused to allow them ride the vehicles.
Six percent other women said they could not use public transports due to lack of space for children and shopping bags.
Purposes of travel
Sixty-five percent men and 39% women travelled for work purposes. For men, 22% of their trips are for social purposes but the figure was 35% for women.
The survey noted that the purposes of the trips also affected the mode of transportation. Bus was the preferred mode for travelling to work and for education trips.
Autorickshaws and rickshaws, on the other hand, were preferred for shopping trips.
Vehicle movement mostly during daytime
In Chittagong City, traffic volumes build up across the day.
Auto-rickshaws make up most of the traffic on major thoroughfares of the port city followed by private cars and rickshaws.
Although the volume of buses is low, they are used for 36% trips in the city.
The survey identified a total of nine challenges for a commuter-friendly transport system in the city.
Traffic snarl-up is the number one reason for the poor condition of transport system. Other challenges include undisciplined stopping and overcrowded public transports.
Poorly maintained and loosely regulated low quality bus services, ineffective traffic management, poor compliance with traffic rules and poor road safety are also among the main challenges.
Poorly maintained and flood-prone road network, uneven and narrow sidewalks, encroachment of sidewalks by street vendors and obstruction of general traffic due to long queue of freight trucks at Chittagong Port and CEPZ entrances were found to be key challenges for improving public transport system in the city.
Assistant Manager Sanjir Ali of e.Gen Consultants Ltd's Project Management Unit told the Dhaka Tribune that the survey was conducted to prepare a master plan for improving urban transport in Chittagong.
“The master plan will be prepared based on the findings of the survey,” he said. “The last 20-year master plan was prepared back in 1995. This time a new master plan is going to be prepared for the next 10 years.”