New bus route franchise in Dhaka starts in April

Existing 291 routes will be reduced to 42


The bus route franchise is starting from April 1 this year while the existing 291 bus routes in Dhaka will be reduced to 42 by coordinating the routes.

The two city corporations have taken initiative to introduce buses of certain colour on certain route to establish discipline in public transport in the capital.

Buses of certain colour will run on certain route. The Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) has drafted 42 integrated routes. Work has already started to determine the terminal.

According to the new plan, one company bus will run on Ghatarchar and Motijheel routes from April 1.

This is officially called 'bus route franchise piloting'. This will reduce the existing  291 routes in the city to 42.

However, the plan for rationalisation of bus routes was drawn up in 1997 and it was taken up by late mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation, Annisul Huq, after he was elected mayor in 2015.

After his death in 2017, the then Dhaka South City Corporation mayor, Sayeed Khokan, was made the chairman of the Bus Route Rationalisation Committee and on September 27, 2018, he declared that he would make roads safer and free from congestion in two years.

At the 13th committee meeting held last year, headed by the current DSCC mayor, Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, a decision was taken to bring all Dhaka city buses under nine clusters and 22 companies on 42 routes.

However, according to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), about 19,399 new buses and minibuses have landed on Dhaka roads in the last 8 years.

Of those, in 2016, the highest number of 3,643 buses, minibuses landed so far. Besides, 3,452 in 2017, 2,507 in 2018, 3,137 in 2019 and 2,107 buses and minibuses landed till October in 2020.

According to the DTCA, there are currently 291 bus routes in the 250-square-kilometre city. But 80 per cent of these routes are ineffective. In many places, there are only nominal routes but there are no buses. On the other hand, there are many routes where the number of bus companies is more than requirement.

According to DTCA sources, some of the routes are empty. If we want to bring discipline in the transport system  in Dhaka city, then first of all the number of routes has to be reduced.

Dhrubo Alam, Deputy Transport Planner at Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority, told the Bangladesh Post that at a time Dhaka would not need more than 20-22 routes. Although it is said that 9,027 buses are plying on Dhaka city routes in paper, there are just over 4,000 buses.

According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) database there are 165 buses running on the route while in reality these buses are not found on the roads.

A senior BRTA official said that after managing route permits under one company, the association leaders demand money from bus owners offering those permits to them and, usually, when the bus owners refuse to give money then such deals or arrangement go in vain.

According to BRTA, the biggest problem in Dhaka is minibus movement. There are now more minibuses on each route. As a result, it becomes difficult to control the traffic.

BRTA chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder told the Bangladesh Post that their executive magistrates regularly take action against the buses running on other routes.