Many employees at the counters said they are charging the extra sum due to 'abnormally high demand' for tickets from May 27 to June 4
Despite guarantees of hassle free sales of bus and train tickets during Eid-ul-Fitr, Dhaka Tribune has found business as usual with bus tickets skyrocketing to Tk1500 on some routes.
Exorbitant prices were found on the black market even though on May 19, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal warned of tough action against anyone found charging excessive fares for people buy tickets for the Eid holidays.
Private bus operators are charging up to Tk100 for normal chair coaches, while the figure ranges between Tk200 and Tk500 for AC bus service.
At Gabtoli and Mohakhali bus terminals the tickets went on sale from May 17 till May 30. From the day sales began hundreds of people were waiting outside the bus counters in Uttara, Kalyanpur, Shyamoli, College Gate, Saidabad, Fakirapool, Arambagh, and Kolabagan —plus the Majar road.
Almost all the companies are charging Tk560 for non-AC bus tickets instead of the regular fare of Tk480 of Dhaka-Rajshahi route. The amount soars to Tk1500, up from of Tk1000 for AC buses of the same route.
Dhaka Tribune found people complaining of excessive charges being made by several bus companies for Eid tickets. Dubbing the high prices of bus tickets as “Eid special fare”, Md Saurav, sales executive of Desh Travels at Kalyanpur, said they were charging the fare considering Chapai Nawabganj as the last stop, even though it is one hours 22 minutes away.
“If anyone wants to get off at Rajshahi then have to pay the full fare,” Saurav said, adding, the bus company fixes the fares every Eid.
Many employees at the counters said they are charging the extra sum due to “abnormally high demand” for tickets from May 27 to June 4.
Shah-Fatheh Ali Paribahan is charging the regular fare for non-AC services from Dhaka to Naogaon and Rangpur, but it is charging Tk400 more for AC bus tickets selling at Tk1,600.
Bus tickets for Chittagong from the capital remained unchanged. Normal chair coach tickets are selling at the regular price of Tk480, with AC bus tickets priced between Tk750 and Tk1,300.
Raju Mia desperately looking for a bus ticket at Saidabad, said: “This is a regular phenomenon every Eid. We are used to being charged excessive fares and we don’t a choice but to pay that amount.”
In Chittagong, three bus companies were fined for charging almost double the regular fare.
Shyamoli Paribahan and Shamoli NR Travels were slapped a Tk25,000 fine each, with Hanif Enterprise penalized with Tk20,000 in fines.
Train ticket website crashes from traffic
Sale of tickets remained suspended on Wednesday for some time at the Chittagong Railway Station due to a technical glitch in the server of the firm responsible for the station's computer networking system, causing immense suffering to the passengers.
A large crowd was seen at the scene, standing in long queues and collecting tickets on Wednesday.
Abul Kalam Azad, station manager at the Chittagong Railway Station, told Dhaka Tribune that they have informed the authorities about the server glitch.
"Any technical glitch in the server is quite natural due to heavy (online) traffic. However, we are optimistic that the problem will not recur over the next days.
Ticket buyers also reported the app for ticket sales was also down on Wednesday. Both the site and the app are operated by Computer Network Systems (CNS) Ltd.
Rail Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon acknowledged the CNS’ system failure and said: “We have arranged to sell 50% of our tickets online. But people have not been able to get proper services so far. We will fix those problems after Eid.”
“The responsibility falls upon us, if our assigned company [CNS] fails to render proper service. We have allotted five days to CNS to sell tickets online,” the rail minister added.
Sujon said: “If the online tickets are unsold, we will sell those from ticket counters later on.”
ACC visits Kamalapur
Afterwards, a team of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) visited the station over the complaint of problems in buying tickets using an app.
ACC Deputy Assistant Director Md Monirul Islam said they talked to Shamim Ul Alam, general manager of CNS, which developed the app, about the allegation but did not get any satisfactory reply from him.
"We will talk to senior officials of the Bangladesh Railway, including Kamalapur Railway Station manager, to investigate the allegation, and prepare a report after reviewing the overall situation," he added.
Sixteen special train services will run on different routes three days before and after Eid, to reduce passenger pressure.