Explained: Why new section is running for only 5 hours
Two of the most frequently asked questions since the Agargaon-Motijheel section of metro rail opened to the public are: why are trains on the new section running only from 7:00am to 12:00 noon, and when will the hours be extended to match those of the Uttara-Agargaon section?
This correspondent talked with MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd (DMTCL), the implementing agency of the project, to know the answers.
He said DMTCL has opened three of the seven stations of the Agargaon-Motijheel section on November 5 and construction work on four other stations on the route is still ongoing.
A major reason for the five-hour service time is to allow workers to continue work on stations that are as yet incomplete, as they cannot work full swing while trains are running through the stations, he said.
"We hope to open the Dhaka University Station at the end of this month or early next month," he told The Daily Star on Monday.
They got access to the land meant for entry and exit of the Kawran Bazar and Shahbagh stations later than planned, so were taking time to complete those, he said.
MAN Siddique said although work on the entry and exit points at the Birdem side of the Shahbagh station is done, works on the other side remain incomplete.
Work at the Karwan Bazar station is similarly incomplete, he said, "But we cannot open just one side of a station. So, in this given situation, we cannot increase service time to complete the remaining works at the stations."
They have also deployed 27 additional mid-level officials for smooth functioning of the stations.
Many passengers are still not habituated to use the entry and exit points using the cards, causing delays.
So, making people habituated to using cards is also a major task to be completed before full-fledged operation of the metro rail, he added.
MAN Siddique said they were still sticking to their previous announcement that they would open all four remaining stations within three months.
"Within a few days of the opening of the remaining stations, service time on the Agargaon-Motijheel section will be increased to match the current timing of the Uttara-Agargaon section," he said.
Later, as per the earlier announcement, they will increase service time for both sections and operate metro train from early morning to mid night.
He said 85,000 to 90,000 passengers used to take metro service daily on the Uttara-Agargaon section.
But after the extension of the service to Motijheel, around 1.15 lakh to 1.20 lakh passengers take the service daily, he added.
Currently, people can reach Motijheel from Uttara within 31 minutes, a distance that takes around two to three hours on buses or cars, which were the only modes of transport available to Dhaka dwellers before the advent of the country's first metro rail.
The Uttara-Agargaon section was opened to public in December last year.
The government is implementing the fast-track project to build the 21.26km elevated metro line from Uttara to Kamalapur at a cost of Tk 33, 472 crore.