All the enthusiastic passengers, experiencing riding the just launched metrorail services on the Motijheel- Uttara route, expressed satisfaction.
Despite a blockade programme enforced by BNP and its allies on Sunday, excited passengers defied possible street violence to experience the rides, some, for the first time. Many of the passengers expressed joy being able to enter the well maintained cleanliness of the glossy seats of the compartments.
At both the ends of the stations in Uttara and Motijheel, crowds waited in excitement to take the ride and be a part of the history. The commercial operation on the first day on the route started at 7:30 am in North Uttara and reached Motijheel station at 8:20 am.
Excited as usual, many of the passengers expressed feelings of extreme happiness saying the ride was beyond imagination. Some were seen in a state of emotion as they got off the neat and fabulous looking metro compartments.
“It was like fairy tale. I could not believe that it took just under 50 minutes to reach Motijheel. The comfort and pollution free ride was worth noticing,” said Mohammad Jamal, a shop owner in Paltan.
Similarly, another metro train that left Motijheel at 9:20 am and reached its final destination at Uttara station by 9:52 am.
Many passengers also pointed out that due to the blockade the metro rail had become more convenient and safe mode of transportation on Sunday. “It was safe and hassle free amid the blockade programme. On the merto there is no fear of facing mob attack or even face violence,” said Jahanara Begum, a housewife in Bashabo.
Passengers who were able to go to Farmgate, Bangladesh Secretariat and Motijheel for the first time by metro rail said that it used to take one to two and a half hours to reach their destinations earlier due to traffic jams at different places. Now they can reach the same distance in just 10 minutes, or maximum 30 minutes.
Commuters have also said that the high-speed metrorail has saved a lot of travel time for them. They said that on average travel time from Motijheel to Farmgate was reduced by 1 to 1.5 hours and from Farmgate to Mirpur section - 10 reduced by 1.5 to 2 hours.
Passengers, however, demanded that the return time should be extended till 11 pm very soon so that more number of passengers get the benefit of metro rail. At present metro rail operation up to Motijheel is kept till 11:30 am. But it will be extended gradually. (need clarification)
In the last few years, Dhaka has expanded in both directions. The distance has increased and the traffic jam has increased too. According to a study, a commuter in Dhaka spends substantial amount of time in traffic jams. On average from 46 minutes to two hours. As a result, the metro journey is showing the possibility of relief. Especially those traveling from Uttara to Motijheel.
“We never even thought it would be possible to travel from Uttara to Motijheel in just half an hour,” said a private office employee who used to travel regularly on Uttara - Motijheel route by bus or other modes of transport before.
While talking to this correspondent, Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) officials informed that they have observed the overall situation closely. Soon they will be appointing three committees to deal with passengers in separate stations.
On the other hand, DMTCL managing director MAN Siddique said, “Soon the operation hour from Uttara to Motijheel will be extended in phases.”