1.7 million people, 0 public bus in Khulna city
There's no city bus service for 1.7 million residents of Khulna for the last four years.
In 2005, there were 60 functional buses used as public transport in the city, which drastically reduced to 5 in 2017. Only one of them remained in operation till 2018.
As a result, residents of the city, especially students of schools and colleges and people belonging to the lower-middle class, are being deprived of "urban transport" services.
Since the last couple of years, Khulna's transportation has mainly been dominated by syndicates of Mahendra [locally assembled three-wheelers] and CNG drivers.
Though the city mayor promised to re-launch "Nagar Paribahan" in his election manifesto, there has been no progress in this regard. This has left the commuters with no option but to comply with the higher fares charged by the Mahindra and CNG syndicate.
According to KCC, the city has 640-km roads in total. There were about 60 city transport services from Phultala to Rupsha post-independence. Four to five buses would run from one end of the city to the other every hour at the lowest possible cost.
In 2016, five double-decker bus services were introduced by BRTC, but they did not remain in operation for long.
At present, the fare of Mahendra and CNG from Fultala to Rupsha Ghat in Khulna is Tk 60-70 per person, which was Tk 20-25 for city service buses.
Asaduzzaman Rahul, an economics major studying at Government BL College, said fares of Mahendra and CNGs from Phultala to Daulatpur is Tk 30-40.
"But with city buses, it would've cost only Tk 10," said Rahul.
"I spend around Tk 1,500 to 1,800 per month only to attend classes. The rent is higher during monsoon," he added.
"The city immediately needs at least 20 to 25 small scale urban transport in Khulna," said SM Iqbal Hossain Biplob, president of Nirapad Sarak Andolon's Khulna chapter.
Shible Biswas, president of Khulna Motor Bus Owners' Association, said it was not possible to run city transport due to Mahendra and CNG.
"There are many underlying political reasons behind this. During parliamentary and mayoral elections, we were promised city transport services, but the initiatives are yet to be taken," said Shible.
"The association will take the initiative to re-launch city transport service if we are cooperated by the mayor and local lawmakers," he added.
However, KCC mayor Talukder Abdul Khaleq said the primary concern is repairing the roads.
"There are currently no plans of launching city transport services," said the mayor.