Passengers have a long list of complaints against public transport fare in Dhaka. Transport companies, on their self-will, transform their ‘local buses’ overnight into what they call ‘seating service.’ And the trip fare per passenger is instantly doubled. General commuters, who have no private cars to reach workplaces, have to use public transport. But they have their grievances over the ‘seating service’ — that quality of the service is not improved and also the buses are dilapidated.
All these objections often cause an exchange of heated words between passengers and bus staff. ‘Seating service’ means assuring commuters of enhanced services with no additional passengers to be boarded once all the seats are filled. But the absence of definite government regulations in this regard has given transport companies the scope to take resort to arbitrariness and cheating. For a long time, every conscious citizen has been demanding for the withdrawal of worn-out vehicles from the streets as a measure of passenger safety. The Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh has recently published a report where it is disclosed that 87 percent of buses and minibuses have
already passed their expiry dates. Most of those are coated with new colour at times so that they
look newer.
More importantly, the report says that market price of each of these buses is at best Tk 5-10 lakh. But transport fares are set showing that purchasing price, including bank interest, of each bus is Tk 47 lakh. Again, 96 percent of the vehicles, too, do not follow the fare chart. On the other hand, anarchy and passenger harassment in the name of ‘seating service’ is a regular phenomenon.
The bus fare is Tk 1.70 per kilometre while it is Tk 1.60 for minibuses. Moreover, the minimum bus fare has been fixed at Tk 7.00 while it is Tk 5.00 in minibuses. By paying the minimum charge, one can travel at least three kilometres at a stretch. Usually, there must be a chart of fare, according to the Vehicles Act, displayed at visible spots inside public transport. Who monitors whether these regulations are properly followed?
Harmony in the transport sector can be restored provided dilapidated vehicles are replaced with new ones. And passengers can feel reassured if
harassment in transport can be stopped. In the meantime, the Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor informed us that 4,000 new buses under five companies would operate on Dhaka streets. We don’t know when it is going to be implemented. The earlier we would realize that only a perfect transport management system can best handle passenger grievances, the better.