The government has planned to introduce new rules including some health guidelines for public transport across the country.
The new rules will include withdrawing the increased bus fares, mandatory use of masks for both transport workers and passengers and a halt to standing passengers.
The rules may come into effect on 1 or 2 September this year.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) officials said they have obtained a go-ahead from the high-ups of the government.
Some of the BRTA officials and people against the increased bus fares expressed their concern over whether the concerned quarters would actually revert to the previous fares.
They said though the transport owners and workers’ leaders promised they would revert to the previous fare, in the past they did not do so. When the government reset fares due to a fall in fuel prices, they did not comply.
They said BRTA has nothing to do, but to conduct some mobile courts in Dhaka and Chattogram.
Earlier on 26 March, the authorities shut down public transport following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country on 8 March.
On 1 June, the government reopened public transport on a limited scale and increased the bus fare by 60 per cent on condition that half of the seats remain vacant.
On 16 August, the transport owners and workers’ leaders sent a letter to the road transport and highways division of the ministry seeking permission to run transport with full passengers. They also reiterated their demand at a meeting with the BRTA.
Asked about the matter, road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader told Prothom Alo that the permission to run transport with full passengers will be given in the first week of the September. But, they will not be allowed to carry standing passengers.
Passengers and transports workers will have to wear masks, he added.
Obaidul also said it is true that the transport owners and workers’ leaders don’t listen to the authorities, but the government will strictly monitor the situation.
Key concern is bus fares
Due to the cronavirus situation, the government increased bus fare to Tk 1.60 per kilometre for minibus and Tk 1.70 for buses. The long-route buses charge Tk 1.42 per kilometre. The minimum fare in the Dhaka city is between Tk 5 and 7.
A BRTA official on anonymity told Prothom Alo that there is no list of the bus and mini-bus fares despite law in this regard. Once deducted, many of the passengers will not be able to calculate how much fare is fair for them. The transport owners and workers will take advantage of that.
Besides, the transport owners and workers’ leaders had been pressing the government to increase bus fare prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Even the BRTA earlier prepared a proposal to increase bus fares by Tk 40 per cent.
More than one the transport owners and workers’ leaders said they will once again bargain for increased fares in transport sector.
Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity secretary general Mozammal Haque Chowdhury told Prothom Alo that hiking bus fares by 60 per cent was a wrong decision. The transport owners used to charge more fare than that of the government’s fixed ones.
He also said the increased fares must be scrapped first. Then the government should ensure whether anyone would charge extra fares from passengers.