Expert says change in bus route rationalisation unnecessary
Experts said appointing a foreign consultant will only delay the implementation of the new system
- The Infrastructure Investment Facilitation Company (IIFC) has already prepared a plan for the Bus Route Rationalisation project
- Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) wants an international consultant to modify the IIFC's plan to fully implement the project
- IIFC proposed operating 7,335 buses, but DTCA wants to reduce this number
- IIFC's proposal does not take into account the metro rail's impact
- DTCA wants an elaborate plan including
- A detailed study
- Designs for bus-station, depot and terminal
- Experts said the IIFC's plan is sufficient to implement the project fully
Infrastructure Investment Facilitation Company (IIFC), a government advisory body, has already outlined a plan for rationalising the bus services in Dhaka city, but the project authority wants to consult a foreign firm in this regard, which might delay the project's implementation, said experts.
According to IIFC's plan, a fleet of 7,335 buses will operate on 42 routes under nine clusters, each having a different color code like green, red, pink and violet. Twenty-two companies will run the city buses – both normal and air-conditioned.
Based on the framework, operating buses on pilot basis on one route, the 21-km Ghatarchar-Kanchpur road, is set to start from 1 December. The project would be fully launched later based on the results of the pilot project.
But Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), the project implementing authority, thinks that the IIFC's plan is not sufficient for implementing the project fully, and they need an international consultant for it.
The DTCA has planned to appoint a foreign consultant by January next year. They will conduct a fresh and comprehensive study, revise the outline and estimate the probable cost.
"The IIFC has provided us with a report entitled 'Bus Service, Routes Restructuring and Clustering,' recommending the outline of the bus route rationalisation. However, this is a primary speculation. So, a detailed study along with designs for bus-station, depot and terminal and costs has to be conducted," said DTCA Executive Director Khandakar Rakibur Rahman.
He also said the consultant will calculate the income and expenses of the new system as well as the amount of compensation for the transport owners, if needed.
The consultant will develop a sustainable transport model of international standards, he said.
However, according to the experts, the existing framework developed by the IIFC is sufficient to implement the project fully and appointing a foreign consultant is a reflection of the ill intention of a vested quarter.
"As we already have the outline, a foreign consultant is not needed to establish the single-company bus operation system. They will have no knowledge of our transport system and the prevailing anarchy," said Md Shamsul Hoque, a professor at the Department of Civil Engineering of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
"Actually the authority wanted to take up a new project for no good reason by appointing a consultant and this may delay the implementation of the new system," he opined, adding that this will only benefit a vested quarter who oppose the proposed system.
The transport expert also said the issue here is not a technical but a political one. So the government's mindset has to be changed in this regard.
Bus Route Rationalisation Project Director Dhrubo Alam said the existing outline has to be restructured because the metro-rail will be opened next year and it will have a big impact on the existing bus users. This issue has not been considered in the IIFC's outline.
Further, the IIFC proposed to rearrange the existing public transport network with 7,335 buses. This number has to be decreased as the Dhaka roads are unable to accommodate such a huge number of public buses, he said.
"The IIFC also proposed operating air-conditioned buses but we have no plan to operate such buses initially," he continued.
"The project may introduce air-conditioned buses in future. We are emphasising on making a 'travel demand model', which is suitable for the existing passengers," said Dhrubo Alam.
The travel demand models use current travel behaviour to predict future travel patterns from a sample of travel behaviour data.
"Besides, the IIFC proposed 40-seat buses for the route rationalisation project, but there is no 40-seat bus. There are only 36-seat buses and we are going to use this for the piloting," said Dhrubo Alam.
IIFC's proposals for route rationalisation
According to the IIFC's outline, the city's public transport system will be restructured with 7,335 buses, 4,523 of which will be 50 seaters. Among these, 1,157 will be air-conditioned buses. The rest of the buses will be 40-seat minibuses.
They proposed purchasing around 2,500 big-buses and 1,500 air-conditioned buses and procuring around 2,800 minibuses from the existing fleet.
According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, currently, 9,027 buses are plying on 291 routes in the capital. The number of permitted routes in the city is 386.
All these routes will be reduced to 42 routes in nine clusters where 22 private companies will operate buses. Each company will have both AC and non-AC buses but will not operate more than 500 buses, the IIFC proposed.
The routes inside Dhaka city will come under six clusters and the routes in the city periphery will be included in three other clusters.
Two companies will operate buses on five routes of Sadarghat-Savar under the red cluster, and three companies will run buses on seven routes under the orange cluster.
The green cluster will comprise eight routes of Ghatarchar-Kachpur. In this cluster, four companies will operate buses. Under the violet cluster, three companies will run buses on six routes of Kanchpur-Abdullahpur.
In the periphery, two companies will operate buses on three routes of Kaliakair-Abdullahpur. Two other companies will operate buses on three routes of Chandra-Savar. One company will run buses on two routes of Munshiganj-Keraniganj.