In the face of objection from top leaders of bus owners' and workers' associations, the proposal of providing transport facilities to more people through newly-launched circular bus service in Dhanmondi area was postponed yesterday.
At the fifth meeting of the coordination committee formed for bringing discipline in mass transport service, resolving traffic jam, bus route rationalisation and introducing bus franchise service, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) Chairman Farid Ahmed Bhuiyan proposed to bring Mohammadpur area under the coverage, to reach out their service to more people.
Currently, BRTC is operating the service between Nilkhet-Science Lab-Satmasjid Road-Dhanmondi 27-Mirpur Road with air-conditioned buses.
“A large number of people live in Mohammadpur, and if it [the area] could be brought under the circular bus service, more people will be benefitted,” he said, proposing to increase the fare by Tk 5 for the extended area.
Right now, the minimum fare is Tk 10 and maximum is set at Tk 30.
Sources at the meeting said Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon, who inaugurated the service on March 27, agreed to the proposal.
“Tk 5 is okay,” Khokon said, adding that they are getting good response from people for the service.
The mayor too suggested increasing the number of buses on the route, and BRTC Chairman promised to add more in 10 days.
At this point, sources said, Khandaker Enayetullah, secretary general of Bangladesh Transport Owners' Association, opposed the proposal.
“Why don't you operate the entire city's transport system with BRTC buses? There are hundreds of bus owners who operate their buses in Mohammadpur area; they will face losses,” he said.
Osman Ali, general secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers' Federation, agreed with Enayetullah, sources confirmed.
Enayetullah said they are already facing difficulties to convince bus owners to operate under bus franchise system. “If the area [of the circular service] is expanded, they might be reluctant to come under bus franchise system.”
After Enayetullah's objection, the proposal was postponed.
“… At the moment, let's limit it to Dhanmondi 27. After further study, we'll think about extension,” said Khokon.
The BRTC chairman then told the meeting that they are planning to launch two more circular bus services in the capital's Motijheel and Uttara areas.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam said he will sit with local councillors to discuss how to make the circular bus services more viable in Uttara.
Following the meeting, Khokon in a press briefing said circular bus service in Motijheel will be launched in the last week of this month and in Uttara in the first week of May.
Khokon said it will take two more years to make the bus route franchise system work.
Asked about the decision later, Mohammadpur resident and guardian of a student, Hasibur Rahman, said, “There are several schools, colleges and universities in Mohammadpur. Students would be benefitted.”