A new addition to promote tourism
Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) is going to introduce a special service for tourists using two of its open-top buses, to promote tourism in and around Dhaka.
Once the service is launched, travellers will be able to see Padma Bridge, along with several historical sites in Dhaka, all while sitting on the open-top buses, said officials.
"We are currently preparing packages for the customers... It will take 10 days or so. We hope to launch the service very soon," BRTC Chairman Tazul Islam told The Daily Star yesterday.
Besides, the state-run transport agency also provides buses on rent for transporting government staffers, and students from different educational institutions. It also has truck services for carrying goods.
Sources said the decision to introduce special tourist buses came from the Road Transport and Highways Division in its monthly coordination meeting on October 17.
BRTC in September prepared an open-top bus, by removing the roof of one of its double-decker buses overnight, to welcome the Bangladesh team that won SAFF Women's Championship.
Later, BRTC modified another double-decker bus and took 40 underprivileged children to Padma Bridge on the vehicle to mark Sheikh Russel Day on October 18.
"We are a commercial organisation. So, we have devised a plan to utilise the two open-top buses properly," said a BRTC official, requesting anonymity.
The BRTC chairman said using the service, tourists will be able to witness different historically significant places in Dhaka, including Ahsan Manzil, Bangabandhu Museum at Dhanmondi, Jatiya Sangsad premises, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre.
Under a package, food will also be provided for the duration of the trip.
Amid all the promises that this service brings, it also has some challenges, according to officials and some travellers.
One month after the long-cherished Padma Bridge opened in June, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) started a special bus service for tourists wishing to see the bridge.
The special tour bus was run regularly on Fridays and Saturdays from Agargaon's Parjatan Bhaban at the cost of Tk 1,200 each.
However, people's enthusiasm to see the bridge saw a decline after two months, forcing the authorities to extend the destination up to Gopalganj's Tungipara -- Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's birthplace -- due to a lack of tourists, said two BPC officials.
Currently, they are providing the service on the basis of booking.
Besides, there are some historic places in Dhaka city, especially in Old Dhaka, that will be hard to reach using the open-top double-decker buses, they said.
A BPC official even raised questions about BRTC's mandate to launch the service.
Moreover, a transport expert recently expressed concerns over the safety of such open-top buses, which are modified double-decker buses.
However, a BRTC engineer, seeking anonymity, said they have checked all safety aspects before the modification.
BRTC Chairman Tazul Islam also said they will ensure all safety measures while providing the service.