Trial run of bus service today
An Indian bus with government officials on board is set to start today on a trial run on Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala route to assess feasibility of a direct bus link.
"The bus is scheduled to leave Kolkata around 7:00am and reach Dhaka around 9:30pm. It will stay one night in Dhaka and start for Agartala the next morning," said Mizanur Rahman, chairman of Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC).
"A seven-member delegation of Indian government officials will travel on the bus. During the trial run, they [officials] will mainly observe the road communication," he told The Daily Star.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will flag off the air-conditioned Volvo bus, reports our correspondent from New Delhi.
West Bengal Housing and Youth Services Minister Arup Biswas and senior officials are included in the delegation, the correspondent adds.
Currently, three cross-border transport services are running between the two countries including two bus services on Dhaka-Kolkata and Dhaka-Agartala and a train service on Dhaka-Kolkata route.
Both the bus and train services between Dhaka and Kolkata get expected number of passengers, but the Dhaka-Agartala service is apparently a flop, according to BRTC officials.
If anyone wants to travel from Kolkata to Agartala by bus, they must stay in Dhaka for one night.
"We hope the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala direct bus service will attract passengers because people of both ends will mostly use this route," the BRTC chairman observed.
After the trial run, governments of both the countries would decide on finalising the date for inaugurating the bus service, said Md Zahangir Alam, additional secretary of Road Transport and Highways Division.
A BRTC bus with Bangladesh government officials has meanwhile made a trial run on Dhaka-Sylhet-Tamabil-Dawki-Shillong-Guwahati route on May 22-26 to observe road infrastructure.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are scheduled to inaugurate the Dhaka-Guwahati bus service during his visit next week.