Launched while in 'test phase'?
While the launch of a circular bus service -- that promises convenient short-distance commutes around Dhanmondi and nearby areas -- has generated excitement among many citizens of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), they might have to hold their horses for just a little longer.
Trying to take a ride on the bus to experience the service proved futile for this correspondent yesterday, as the number of both stoppages and buses were found to be far less than advertised. When asked, DSCC and BRTC authorities said they are still running some “trial-and-error” methods, and the service will be fully operational within two weeks.
The route, which DSCC Mayor Sayeed Khokon launched on Wednesday, was said to have 36 stops on both sides of the road between Nilkhet-Science Lab-Satmasjid Road-Dhanmondi 27-Mirpur Road with some 25 air-conditioned buses plying every five minutes. However, no stoppage or ticket counter was found on a walk from Dhanmondi 12/A to Jigatola on Satmasjid Road, although the DSCC map said there should have been four on both sides.
The first stoppage found on that stretch -- at Jigatola towards Science Lab intersection -- was essentially an umbrella and a small PVC banner, and a man sitting on the pavement with tickets in hand. “Only four buses are plying today,” he said. “That's why the buses are coming every half an hour or so.” Asked about the stoppages, he said only a few were operating so far, “since it's the first day”.
A similar scene was seen on Mirpur Road. According to the route plan, there should have been three stoppages on each sides of the road from Dhanmondi Road 3 to Road 16 (Old Rd 27), but only one was found on Road 16. That too was an umbrella and a banner, placed on a footpath railing. The man selling tickets there echoed his colleague from Jigatola.
Contacted over phone, DSCC Mayor Sayeed Khokon admitted that the service is not fully functional yet.
“When we start operations, some small problems come up... Already we are seeing some issues. Traffic sergeants were not allowing our buses to stop at some places; the orders from above were not being carried out at the ground level,” he said.
“From next week, six more buses will join. Another 10 will come soon,” he added. “Our target is to have fully functional service in 15 days.”
About the umbrella-and-banner ticket counters, he said, “We are observing and monitoring it on a trial basis at a small scale, and once we know from the ground that these are the proper places -- from where people will get on the bus, and tickets will be sold, we will put passenger sheds and other structures there. These are still on a temporary basis. You can call it a trial and error,” the mayor said.
Asked about the current status of the services, Almas Ali, deputy general manager (operations-bus) of Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation, said, “We are still working on this. By Monday you will hopefully know how many stoppages are there, how many buses etc. Our work is not finished yet.”