Travelling in buses shouldn’t be this hard.
My father used to be an avid user of local transport in Dhaka. He wasn't the only one. To this day, many people are heavily reliant on buses. My father believes the entire process of taking on Dhaka's traffic, with the complicated array of options offered by bus companies, is a skill that everyone should learn.
I personally think he's wrong. Here's why.
Ask anyone what's wrong with the transport system in Bangladesh, and they will state their unmeasurable frustration about how the buses operate daily. When I was growing up, the influence of Hollywood movies gave me an idea about how buses work in general. I thought it encompassed listening to music peacefully, no noisy traffic and, if luck favours, a couple of friends for the ride.
But I soon came to know that the situation in Bangladesh is very different. As a university student myself, buses are now my only means of transportation. While I have learned to use them, the experience has been borderline dreadful.
In my personal experience, I never find any specific points to get on a bus, and the bus I'm trying to get on just randomly stops in places. There have been countless times where I had to run and battle through ravaging motorcycles, cars, and other traffic to get on a bus. I honestly don't know how I survived. To make matters worse, sometimes the bus doesn't stop. I mean, what's up with the driver never wanting to hit the brakes?
Furthermore, the bus conductor pretends like everything is fine. I clearly remember that I once asked a conductor to instruct the driver to stop the bus while picking up passengers because getting on a running bus is risky. I even told him that my shoulders collided with the door and I was hurt. He brushed off my statement and told me I needed to man up.
For a vehicle that big in size, the buses are surprisingly very compact inside. For a person with average height, even I find them overly uncomfortable. The leg space is barely enough, and the conductor always manages to overcrowd the buses even if they charge you more for your seats. So any space you can salvage is quickly given to a different passenger.
The passengers are also full of surprises. Every time I sit next to someone, they always manage to occupy every bit of space between the seats and make sure they get a glimpse of what I am doing on my phone. Well, who can blame them when I have Arnob on repeat?
So, I can't entirely agree with my father when he says this is a necessary skill to learn. Travelling in buses shouldn't be this hard. Commuting against the Dhaka traffic is like riding a roller coaster – a roller coaster capable of breaking you from the inside.
With new initiatives being taken, we can only hope things change from here. My father hopes too. For once, if this changes, I know he would gladly accept he was wrong.