The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has reduced bus fares by Tk0.05 per kilometre with effect from Thursday following a decrease in fuel price by Tk5 per litre two days before.
Commuters, however, say the new reduction will be of no benefit to them, especially for low-distance travellers, as they will need to travel at last 20 kilometres to enjoy a Tk1 decrease in the total fare.
After the reduction, the bus fare in the capital Dhaka will be Tk2.45 per kilometre from now, according to Secretary of Road Transport and Highways Division ABM Amin Ullah Nuri. Bus fare for long-distance routes has been set at Tk2.15 per kilometre.
Nuri's announcement came after a meeting with the leaders of the transport sector and bus owners at the chairman's office at the BRTA headquarters in Banani on Wednesday.
The government last Monday cut diesel tax by 10%, resulting in a flat Tk5 decline in fuel prices, which users and experts say will have a little positive impact on low-income earners.
The government hiked diesel and kerosene prices in early August, following which bus fares were increased by Tk0.40 to Tk2.20 per kilometre in the capital and by Tk0.35 in metropolitan cities including Dhaka-Chittagong.
A reduction of no benefit
Commuters in the capital said the new reduction in bus fares will not bring any good news for them.
Sheikh Saif, a regular commuter in the Agargaon to Karwan Bazar in the capital, said, "This Tk0.05 reduction will be of no help to me.
On a kilometre basis, I would have to pay Tk12 for the distance I travel, but I will have to keep paying Tk15."
Commuters also fear that transport workers will use underhanded strategies, including using a waybill check system, to keep charging extra.
BRTA Chairman Nuri said the authorities will take measures, including monitoring by mobile courts and representatives from the transport owners, to implement the new fares properly.
He also said the waybill check system has been scrapped.
"The transport owners have a system in place to monitor how many passengers are riding a bus but it is not being used to charge passengers extra," he said.
Digital ticket system in plan
Transport owners are planning to launch a digital ticket system to provide better facilities to passengers.
The digital system will be launched within 10 days in some buses, said Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association.
The system will eventually be introduced to all buses in future, he added.