Public transportation service in Dhaka city is deplorable in terms of quality and reliability, said a senior government road engineer at a workshop in the capital yesterday.
“A lot has to be done in regard of enhancing quality and resolving horrendous congestion to improve the public transport system,” said Noor-E-Alam, superintending engineer of Roads and Highways Department (RHD), in his presentation on the state of Dhaka's urban transportation.
He was speaking on the opening day of a two-day international workshop on "Sustainable Urban Transport Index (SUTI)", organised by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Dhaka Urban Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) and RHD.
Participants from Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal and Vietnam, along with Asian Development Bank, World Bank, UNDP, Jica and Armed Forces Division are taking part in the workshop.
Public transport system, in which bus service holds the highest modal share of more than 56 percent, is most widely used in Dhaka metropolitan area but with serious public dissatisfaction, Noor-E-Alam said.
“It is shameful that liveability in Dhaka remains one of the poorest in the world despite various developments taking place,” said Ebne Alam Hasan, chief engineer of RHD.
DTCA Executive Director Khandakar Rakibur Rahman said a ten-member committee led by south Dhaka mayor is working on rationalisation of 152 bus routes and their operation in the capital.
The SUTI index is derived from aggregation of ten indicators set by the UNESCAP to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, namely -- transport plan and infrastructure, modal share, access to public transport service, quality and reliability, traffic fatalities, travel cost, operational cost, investment in public transport, air quality and level of greenhouse emission. The indicators help assess the state of urban transport performance.
“In case of Dhaka city, the land use plan must be such that it would ensure road network grids, or else there will be transportation problems in future,” said Prof Shivananda Swami from CEPT University of Ahmedabad, who is regarded the mastermind of bus rapid transit of Ahmedabad, India.
The public space disproportionately occupied by private vehicles should be reclaimed to accommodate public transport system, he said, adding that not one but multiple solutions constitute the public transport system.
It is the plan what matters critically in respect of having a vibrant urban transport system, he said, adding that land use master-plan, city development plan, transport plan and environment conservation plan must be integrated with each other.
ESCAP economic affairs officer Madan B Regmi said, “What is the use of a nice plan if it is not implemented?”