National, Back Page

Commuters prefer metro-rail to travel in city

Public bus services face passenger crisis

Published : 16 Feb 2024 10:29 PM | Updated : 22 Feb 2024 10:12 PM

As the country’s first modern urban public transport, the metro rail from Uttara to Motijheel has come into full service, the public bus services on the respective routes have faced a shortage of passengers. 

To save time in this city of severe traffic jams, most commuters on this important route are preferring to use metro rail. Due to such gradual shift, a bulk of the former bus passengers are getting huge advantages while the owners of the public road transport are finding it hard to make profits.

However, bus owners cannot change the bus route due to the complexity of the ‘route permit’. As a result, the passenger crisis issue has become a headache for them.

Metro rail on the Uttara-Motijheel route started in November last year. Initially, metro rail services were available from 7:10 am to 11:30 am. However, from January 20, the operation time was extended to 8:40 PM.

However, where metro rail is struggling to handle the rush of passengers, bus services are facing huge crisis of passengers.

After the metro rail from Uttara to Motijheel in Dhaka was launched, Arman Mursalin no longer took the bus to reach office. His residence is in Pallabi of Mirpur. He has to go to Motijheel every day for office work.

Arman said that it takes him 26 to 27 minutes to reach Motijheel from Pallabi by metro rail. 

Earlier it used to take two to two and a half hours to travel the same distance.

Many regular commuters like Arman have now stopped travelling by bus. They chose the metro rail. Because of this, the number of passengers on the Mirpur-Motijheel route has drastically decreased in last one year. The income of the owners and workers has also decreased.

“Until the start of all-day trains, the metro had little impact on our business. But now we are making losses,” said Maksudur Rahman, a bus owner of Bikalpa Paribahan.

A total of 35 buses ply on the Motijheel-Mirpur-12 route of 

Bikalpa Paribahan. They extended the route to Jatrabari last November in the hope that their business would not be affected.

Maksudur said that every time his bus went from Motijheel to Mirpur-12 in the evening on weekdays, he earned more than Tk 1500. Now the income is only Tk 1100 to Tk 1300 or less.

Maksudur said that he bought the bus in 2019 with a loan from the bank. He is now thinking of running buses on other routes to pay off the debt.

Experts said that the communication system is improving as part of the overall development of the country. Metro rail has become a good alternative to Dhaka’s traffic congestion system. 

There is no guarantee that the bus will reach the destination on time due to traffic congestion. Due to the traffic jams, the city dwellers have to waste time and suffer. People are now tired of seeing this daily picture. 

On the other hand, the metro rail from Uttara to Motijheel is reaching smoothly and much faster. There is no traffic congestion, there is relief. That’s why bus commuters flock to metro rail stations.

Buses plying from Mirpur to Motijheel and Jatrabari depart from Pallabi Bus Stand. On Thursday at 11:00 am, it was seen that several companies’ buses were parked at some distance. The helpers (driver’s assistants) are clamouring to pick up passengers. A handful number of passengers got into the bus even after standing for a long time.

Liaquat Ali Khan, owners' representative of the Shikar Paribahan bus services, said that metro rail has many advantages. The traffic congestion on the road below has not decreased like that. As a result, the number of bus passengers has naturally decreased. It also reduced the income of owners and workers of road transport. 

He said, “Earlier, each bus used to deposit up to Tk 3,500 per day on average. Now it has come down to about Tk 2,000 to Tk 2,500.”

This reporter travelled, in the guise of a passenger, on a Bikalpa Paribahan bus service from Pallabi bus stand at 11:10 am. The bus stopped for a long time at each station to pick up passengers. When it left Mirpur roundabout number 10, it was 12:30 pm.

There were passengers in all the seats of the bus. However, many passengers got off at Kazipara, Shewrapara and Agargaon. 

It takes around two and a half hours to reach Paltan from Pallabi. But it takes 25 minutes to reach this route by metro rail. 

Khandkar Enayet Ullah, General Secretary of Dhaka Road Transport Owners Association, said that the route permit is closed for the time being, and there is no opportunity to change it.

“Now is the age of competition. New buses should be put on the road, facilities should be increased. Keeping the whole thing in mind we are thinking what can be done,” he added.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police officials said that they are observing the situation and a decision will be taken after this Eid-ul-Fitr.

Before the introduction of the metro rail, the city buses for Mirpur-12 and Abdullahpur routes, which run from Mirpur-12 and Abdullahpur through densely populated Motijheel, Gulistan, Jatrabari, Saydabad, Sadarghat and Azimpur areas, were seen heavily packed with sitting and standing passengers daily. 

Currently, these buses are seen running with fewer passengers, mostly without standing ones.

Some passengers said that they prefer the metro rail for its quick services although the metro service is costlier than the bus service.

The minimum fare of buses on these routes is Tk 10, while the minimum fare on metro rail is Tk 20.