Since the opening of the Padma Bridge, passenger flow in launches of the country's southern region has dropped prompting launch owners to refrain from operating additional launches during the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha season.
All launches will operate according to the regular-time schedules and fare will remain unchanged this time, the launch owners decided at a meeting held on Saturday.
However, launches can choose to charge a low fare if they want.
Badiuzzaman Badal, vice-president of the Bangladesh Inland Waterways Passenger Carrier Association (BIWPCA), a launch owners body, said new launches used to be added during the Eid rush to accommodate the increased flow of passengers
"However, with the opening of the Padma Bridge, passenger rush on the waterway route this year has dropped," he said, adding that owners do not want to risk adding vessels when the number of passengers are decreasing.
Some 60-65 luxury launches leave from Dhaka for different destinations in the southern part of the country every day.
"Although launches are currently operating with losses, we expect the situation to improve after the Eid when rush on roads will prompt people back to using launches," said Badal.
After the opening of the Padma Bridge, the fare for the launch deck came down to Tk200 from Tk250. In addition, single cabins and double cabins are now available within Tk1,000 and Tk2,000 respectively.
Meanwhile, Friday marked the highest amount of toll collection – Tk3,16,53,200 – from Padma Bridge in a day since its inauguration last week. A total of 26,398 vehicles paid the toll while crossing the bridge on Friday (1 July).
Earlier on 26 June, the first day when the bridge was opened to traffic - Padma Bridge authority collected Tk2,09,40,300 toll from 51,316 vehicles that crossed the 6.15km bridge from both sides in the first 20 hours.
Meanwhile, a total of Tk69,81,440 was collected from 26,064 vehicles on the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Expressway at the Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga route during the first 24 hours of toll collection. However, a five-kilometre-long tailback was created at the expressway toll plaza on Friday – the first day of toll collection, causing drivers and passengers to suffer.