- The system is set for implementation on the Ghatarchar to Motijheel route
- Vehicle owners seek Tk3-4 lakh loan at 4.5% interest to modernize each vehicle
- 22 companies and 42 routes in 9 clusters will gradually come under the bus route franchise
- Franchise will eliminate unusual competition in the public transport system
- Around 2,500 bus owners currently run 4,500 passenger buses on 291 routes across the capital
As per the proposal of an expert committee, the government has finalised 22 companies and 42 routes in 9 clusters that will come under the bus route franchise in Dhaka.
The franchise system will initially be implemented on a pilot basis from 1 April in a 12.5-kilometre route from Ghatarchar to Motijheel via Bosila, Mohammadpur, Elephant Road, Shahbagh and Paltan crossing.
"We will implement the franchise partially on one amongst 42 selected routes. Some 165 buses and minibuses are now operating on the Ghatarchar to Motijheel route under five companies," said Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh on Tuesday after the 14th meeting of the Bus Route Rationalization Committee in Nagar Bhaban office.
"Bus owners will enter into joint venture agreements," he added.
Khandaker Enayet Ullah, member of the Bus Route Rationalisation (BRR) committee and Secretary General of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association told The Business Standard, "We seek around Tk3-4 lakh loan at 4.5% interest to modernize each vehicle on the pilot route. Buses of the proposed route will be rearranged."
Joint Convener of the committee and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam said, "We are assessing the bus owners' proposal of loans at lower interest rates."
"We have discussed topics such as drivers and helpers' dress code, and also locations of bus stands and passenger sheds," he added.
There will be 42 bus routes in Dhaka, which will operate under 22 companies under the new system. All city buses, which are now operated by 2,500 bus owners, will be incorporated into the system.
Professor Dr Shamsul Hoque, a public transport expert and former director of Accident Research Institute, Buet, told TBS, "The franchise system will eliminate the unusual competition in the public transport system as all the bus companies will come under a common umbrella."
However, he suggested a central authority to monitor and regulate the entire process, and also proposed bringing human-hauler transport under the purview of the selected route.
DNCC Mayor Atiqul mentioned that they were also thinking along the same lines to prevent inter-districts buses from entering the city.
He said that the public transport vehicles are currently operating without discipline. "We are determined to remove traffic congestion per the declaration of the election manifesto," he added.
Earlier, Mayor Atiqul said they are especially prioritizing the scheme as 63% people of Dhaka's citizens use public buses to commute.
DSCC Mayor Taposh said that public transport will be brought under the discipline, while other routes will be included in the franchise.
The 10-member BRR committee was formed to bring order to public transportation in the capital and reduce traffic congestion.
The next committee meeting will be held on 19 January, to monitor and review progress made.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam; Bangladesh Road Transport Authority Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder; Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation Chairman Md Ehsan Elahi; Bus Route Rationalization Committee Member Secretary and Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) Executive Director Khandaker Rakibur Rahman, , were present at the event among others.
Last year, DTCA had appointed a company to conduct a feasibility study on the bus route franchising initiative.
That company recently submitted an inception report on the new transport modes in Dhaka.
The BRR committee analysed the inception report and is now formulating an action plan to implement the new transport system.
The bus franchising plan was taken up in 2015 to bring discipline to the public transport system and was the brainchild of the late Annisul Huq, the former DNCC mayor.
Annisul Huq was the first convener of the BRR committee and Sayeed Khokon, former DSCC mayor, took charge of the committee following Annisul's death.
Taposh became the new convener of the committee by default on 16 May when he took charge as DSCC mayor.