Dhaka Nagar Paribahan, the capital's public transport company, started its pilot operation under bus route rationalization (BRR), with 50 buses on Sunday aiming to streamline the city transport sector and improve services.
Roads, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader virtually inaugurated the piloting of the bus franchise system at Mohammadpur BRTC counter.
Both the Mayors of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) were present at the inaugural session.
However, transport planners and experts expressed their doubt over the success of this BRR initiative as the piloting started without addressing the issues of malpractice prevailing in different routes of the city.
In his speech, Obaidul Quader said after the Ghatarchar-Kanchpur route, there is a plan to start 42 routes to bring order in the city's transport sector. These are under Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) jurisdiction-- Narsingdi, Manikganj, Narayanganj and Gazipur are also under the plan.
"Due to the lack of a well-planned transport system, unhealthy competition persists among different bus companies causing anarchies and accidents. Therefore, it is necessary to gradually restore order in the transport system of the city," DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said.
"All the city routes will be brought under the Dhaka Nagar Paribahan in phases. Bus owners will be able to operate buses only in the routes for which they have taken permits and they will not be allowed to operate in other routes beyond the permit," DSCC Mayor Fazle Noor Taposh said in his speech.
He also announced the introduction of Nagar Paribahan in the whole city by 2023.
At present, 120 companies operate in 291 routes in the capital and surrounding areas. In Dhaka, the route number would be reduced to 42. Of those, routes number 1 to 32 would be inside the city, seven would be from the capital to other surrounding districts and number 42 at Hatirjheel Circular route.
In piloting, there were 30 red buses of BRTC and 20 green buses of Trans Silva which will ply between Ghatarchar and Kanchpur. Bus route rationalization committee members said the number of buses will be increased to 100 by the next two months.
Five companies including BRTC have been selected to take their buses in this first route that stretches 27 km. The companies are BRTC (10 buses), Trans Silva (20 buses), Jahan Enterprise (60 buses), Mostafa Helal Kabir (five buses) and HR Transport (Five buses).
Committee members also said there would be an e-ticketing system from the very first day. About 30 out of the total 40 passenger sheds have been completed. There will be 16 bus bays on this route.
Without clarifying how they would do it, a DTCA official said other buses in the green cluster route would be restricted from 31 January next year.
Transport expert and Professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Shamsul Hoque told TBS all the buses of every route of Dhaka could have been included under Nagar Paribahan if the BRTA wanted through one comprehensive plan. Now it seems anarchy may arise again, he added.
"There are other buses where this route has started. Besides, there will be laguna and minibuses too on the same route. The system would sustain if everyone who is affected due to the introduction of this route can be provided with compensation," he said.
Now this route may sustain half a year or one year, said Prof Shamsul, adding: a high-powered mass transit authority may be effectively needed for supervision of this system and for making the system sustainable.
DTCA executive director and member secretary of the BRR committee Nilima Akhter said if any problem arises during the experimental operation, those will be addressed. The main challenge in future would be to implement the system in the whole city.