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Dhaka Tribune

Public transport in Dhaka

Update : 18 Nov 2016, 04:57 PM

With increasing improvements in the transportation system of our country, and the constant developments in our infrastructure, we may not be far away from the day when being stuck in the traffic for hours will not be an everyday thing.

Starting from rickshaws and buses to the newly introduced Ubers, we have seen a lot of changes till date. It was Public Transport day on November 10. So, we went around the city to see how far we have actually come, in terms of growth in the public transportation.


For us Dhaka dwellers, rickshaw has to be the best mode of transportation. Roaming around university campuses and narrow alleys of the city on rickshaw, has always been a favourite pass time for many of us.

The availability of rickshaws and cheap rates have always appealed to us, Dhakaites. And with the introduction of the yellow rickshaws around the diplomatic zone, after the terror attack in July, students and commuters of all ages find it easier to travel from one place to another. On August 10, 500 new yellow rickshaws were commissioned for around Niketon, Gulshan, Banani, and Baridhara area. Working around the clock in three shifts, 1,500 rickshaw pullers have been recruited and trained to act as police informants. These rickshaw pullers have unique coloured uniforms based on their area of operation with logos of the respective housing societies. The fares of twenty destinations have been fixed and they are displayed on the number plates. The rates range from Tk15 to Tk50. Moreover, these plates are retro reflective which can be easily detected by the CC cameras. Rickshaw pullers in these areas have been assigned a hotline number to report any suspicious activities. Hence travelling on rickshaws has become a lot safer.

The number of rickshaws launched however, is inadequate. Although 1000 of these vehicles were added to the existing 500, it still seems insufficient as at least 5000 more are needed. We also cannot overlook the fact that they were never allowed to drive on the main roads. Yellow rickshaws are limited to certain areas, it gives the ordinary rickshaw pullers a chance to demand very high prices. The scarcity of rickshaws becomes a major crisis on rainy days and particularly during the rush hours.

Buses and CNG-driven autorickshaws

If you live in Dhaka, you cannot help but notice people running after buses, or bargaining with autorickshaw drivers over the fare. Reckless bus drivers making their way through heavy traffic in the morning, that too on the wrong side, is also a common scenario. Just as rickshaws are widely used for short distances, buses and autorickshaws (known as CNGs), are mainly used for longer routes.

Travelling by the bus is convenient among young students and commuters, due mainly to the affordable fares and accessibility. Some of these buses even offer special discounts for university and college going students. But one cannot deny that extensive routes and numerous stoppages have always been a problem when travelling by the bus. Twenty new air-conditioned buses, run by Private Operators have been launched recently. Though the fixed routes from Mohakhali to Gulshan through Badda link road, have been a difficulty for most of the passengers. And as most of the buses carry way more passengers than they’re supposed to, problems of overloading will always arise, unless the number of buses are increased.

Overtime, CNG-driven autorickshaws have gained popularity for a certain level of safety. Although there have been mishaps every now and then. Measures have been taken to make CNGs more safe and cost effective. Since the fares have been assigned according to the distance, people do not have to face the hassle of bargaining. However it still takes a lot of convincing, as these drivers tend to ask for at least Tk10-Tk20 more than the actual fare.

Next big thing

In the near future, the authority hopes to introduce metro rail in Dhaka. For those who are tired of being stuck in traffic, metro rail can be a ray of hope.

Dhakaites can also look forward to Ubers, which is just like taxis but provide premium services.

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