Why private universities need more buses
It has been a little over a month since I started attending classes at Brac University. Although I took some time off education, hoping to have a clearer vision of what it is that I want to pursue by the time I restarted, I am still in a state of limbo. Due to the arduous nature of my major, I haven't had the time to process what it is that I am doing either. We were thrown into the thick of it all from day one and it hasn't become any easier since.
Despite how overwhelmed and exhausted I am, one of the few things I admire about my institution has to be the student transport service. I have used it a handful of times and am yet to encounter an unpleasant experience.
The bus fare is BDT 90 to and from any destination, which is quite reasonable when compared to other modes of transportation. Local bus services, while cheaper, don't offer the same level of reliability, comfort, and safety. The times I have used BracU's bus service, it showed up at the stop on time and was never too late. Availing the services of local buses, on the other hand, is a gamble, and it rarely works in my favour. In contrast, ride-sharing apps and CNGs are far more reliable and offer greater comfort but using these daily is not feasible because of how expensive these services tend to get.
When pitted against other modes of transport, the university buses are safer as well, and my female friends who avail of this service also feel the same. The fact that the bus is not accessible to outsiders and that there are many other female students inside the bus makes them feel safe and comfortable to the point where they don't face any trouble even while taking naps during their commutes.
Of course, the service is far from perfect. Compared to the sheer number of students at BracU, there are too few buses not making enough trips across the routes they offer. There are two timings for students to be picked up, both of which are somewhat inconvenient for me. The first one starts too early and drops me off at campus even before my classes start. The second pick-up time is after my class starts.
Similarly, the timings for students to board the bus from campus have two timings. The first one is around 2 PM and the second one is at 5 PM. Introducing a couple of new timings to and from campus for the buses doesn't seem like too tall an order and would only stand to benefit the students.
While I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of BracU's transportation services, what I am more shocked by is that not all private universities offer such a service. Travelling in Dhaka is a harrowing experience and for students, it is no easier. Considering the sheer amount of stress most students are under, the added pressure of having to figure out how to commute on the streets of Dhaka sounds overwhelming.
It is also no secret that commuting to certain areas, like Bashundhara Residential Area, is not convenient. So, is the onus not on the institution to help its students overcome this hurdle? Even if the circumstances were different, university transport services are a great initiative for students and something that most private universities should try to implement.
Abir Hossain is a sub-editor at Campus.