The process to bring Dhaka city buses under a single company named "Dhaka City Transport" is going to start 1 December this year with the aim to bring discipline in the public transport sector and reduce traffic congestion.
Piloting of the bus franchise system will start with 120 buses on the Ghatarchar-Kanchpur route, said Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh at a press briefing after the 18th meeting of the Bus Route Rationalisation Committee yesterday.
Dhaka North City Corporation mayor Md Atiqul Islam was also present there.
The 21km-route will cover areas including Bosila, Mohammadpur, Elephant Road, Shahbagh, Paltan and Motijheel.
Mayor Taposh said, "Initially we are going to launch services in one route but it will be implemented in the remaining routes of this cluster in phases."
"We took charge from the 12th meeting on 6 October, 2020. In one year, working amid the pandemic, we have completed the complicated task of route rationalisation," Taposh said.
The Dhaka South mayor said old buses will not run on the route. Only the buses manufactured after 1 January, 2019 can operate under the new company.
He also said the Bangladesh Bank has allocated Tk100 crore loan for the bus owners. So they can take a loan from the fund if needed.
Dhaka North Mayor Atiqul Islam said all the buses under the company will be same in design and color. Trained and licensed drivers and workers wearing uniforms will be allowed to provide services.
"We will get the design of the bus by 14 October. We will finalise the design by 20 October," said the Dhaka North mayor.
Atiqul further said they have constructed 16 bus-bays and 40 passenger-sheds for the new service.
Expressing satisfaction on the number of permitted buses, General Secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers' Federation Osman Ali said currently 125 buses of two companies – Rajanigandha and Maloncha – are operating on the route carrying around 10,000-12,000 passengers per day. So, 120 buses are enough for now.
In Tuesday's meeting no discussion on bus fare on the route took place.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder told The Business Standard, "We had set fare at Tk2.20 per kilometer earlier, but this is not fixed yet and today no discussion was held on the issue."
Building terminal is underway
The Bus Route Rationalisation Committee has selected 12 acre land in Ghatarchar for constructing a bus terminal. The work to build a depot will start shortly, said a Dhaka South City Corporation official.
Besides, work is underway for setting up four inter-district bus terminals in Hemayetpur, Keraniganj, Ghatail, and Bhagai.
Bus Route Rationalisation, a brainchild of late mayor Annisul Huq
Former Dhaka North mayor Annisul Huq first took the initiative regarding bus route rationalisation or operation of bus services under a single company in 2016. The initiative lost momentum after his death in 2017.
Then, the issue resurfaced following the road safety movement waged by the students in 2018. That year, a 10-member committee was formed with representatives of government bodies, police, transport owners, workers and experts. The then Dhaka South mayor Sayeed Khokon was the convener of the committee. It failed to make any progress either.
Finally, current Dhaka South Mayor Taposh joined the 12th meeting of the Bus Route Rationalisation Committee on 06 October, 2020. Then, he along with the others started over the process.