A city commuter will be able to enjoy the comfort of travelling from Uttara to Agargaon by metro rail – to be inaugurated in December this year – at a cost of Tk60 for the 11km distance.
At a programme on Tuesday, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the country's maiden metro rail service in the capital will charge a passenger Tk5 per kilometre. The minimum fare will be Tk20.
While inaugurating an exhibition centre at the Uttara metro rail depot, the minister said the metro rail fare from Uttara to Motijheel has been fixed at Tk100.
However, war-wounded freedom fighters will be able to ride the metro for free, while there will be special discounts for the differently-abled. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the Uttara-Agargaon stretch of the metro rail service, which has registered more than 94% progress so far.
The government is implementing the metro rail project to ensure a cost-effective, safe and environment-friendly public transport system for Dhaka.
Rights campaigners, however, find the Dhaka metro fare higher compared to neighbouring countries due to the relatively high construction cost.
A metro ride in Kolkata could be as low as Rs10. In the city, commuting around 27km by metro service costs only Rs25, or Tk30. The minimum metro fare in Delhi is also Rs10, as a 12.21km ride costs the highest Rs40, or around Tk46.
The minimum metro fare in Punjab is 20 Pakistani rupee, as the highest PKR70 fare offers a 25km ride.
Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, secretary general of passengers' welfare platform Jatri Kalyan Samity, pointed the finger at an attitude by the authorities of passing down the cost on people.
"For this attitude, the stake of the common people in public transport remains ignored," he commented, adding, "If the metro rail is built for people who have cars, then the fares are okay. Common people, especially the poor, will not be able to take the metro service by paying such a high fare."
However, Md Hadiuzzaman, a public transportation expert and also a civil engineering professor at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), told The Business Standard that the fares are rational considering air-conditioned bus fares and smoother transportation the metro would offer cutting through the notorious Dhaka traffic.
"Metro rail will save our working hours, increase productivity and income," he added.
The transportation expert also said that travel expenses should be limited to 15% of gross income in any modern city. But Dhaka dwellers spend 23% of income on transport.
He also commented that if the metro rail fares could be lowered than the proposed rate, the poor would get more benefits.
The construction of the 15.2 km Jakarta North-South Metro line in Indonesia began in 2013 and the commercial run started in 2019, costing the country $1.14 billion.
Bangladesh started the 21.26 km MRT-6 metro rail project almost at the same time, but the total construction will be completed in 2026 at a cost of around $3.52 billion.
Uttara metro rail exhibition centre will demonstrate the procedure of buying the tickets, various facilities of the stations and trains, dos and don'ts of passengers.
Japanese Ambassador to Dhaka Ito Naoki, Jica Chief Representative Yuho Hayakawa and DMTCL Managing Director MAN Siddique were present at the inauguration.