Commuters in Bangladesh can pay BRTC bus fares using smart cards for the first time, after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Rapid Pass Card activities on Thursday.
The prime minister launched the groundbreaking scheme at Kamalapur Bus Depot by video conference from her official residence at Ganabhaban.
“The government has introduced such a modern and electronic system to ease the payment of bus fare by commuters,” the premier said.
“With the inauguration of the Rapid Pass Card, Bangladesh has entered a modern era in terms of using the latest technology.”
Sheikh Hasina said the smart card can be used in future for paying utility bills such as for electricity and water.
Officials added that the use of such a card will be introduced for other modes of transport in phases.
The prime minister thanked the Japanese government and JICA for their support.
“Japan has extended massive support in constructing big infrastructures and development of the country,” she said. “The friendly country is also extending its support with grants for building Metro Rail in Dhaka as well as many other infrastructures.”
The smart card project will be fully implemented by June 2018 at a cost of Tk39 crore, and will ensure facilities for travellers comparable to those available in the developed world.
Primarily, 60,000 Rapid Passes developed in Japan involving electronic chips and security as well as the necessary server, handy device, RAM and other equipment have been procured, while Dutch Bangla Bank has been given the responsibility to act as the clearing house to this end.
The price of each Rapid Pass card has been fixed at Tk400, comprising Tk200 as the primary recharge and Tk200 as the deposit money.
Interested people can purchase and recharge the Rapid Pass Cards from seven different locations in the capital: Motijheel, Shahbagh, Banani, Natun Bazar in Gulshan, Gulshan-2, Gulshan Shooting Club, and Uttara House Building.
The premier also talked to BRTC Chairman Kabir Ahmad Bhuiyan and a number of passengers of a BRTC bus at Kamalapur BRTC Bus Depot through the videoconference.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Qader, Chief of Army Staff General Abu Belal Mohammad Shafiul Haq, and Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Masato Watanabe were present at Ganobhaban during the conference.
Currently, commuters taking BRTC buses from Motijheel-Abdullapur and Motijheel-Nabinagar routes can avail themselves of the smart cards.