Initiate franchise system for Dhaka buses


Dhaka's public transport system has long been in serious disorder. The people's distress knows no limit. Their time is wasted, with the vehicles hardly moving faster than pedestrians at 5 km per hour. This was 21 km just a decade ago. A 2018 survey said five million working hours and Tk 37,000 are wasted due to Dhaka's traffic jam.

Congestion has been worsened since the survey was published. Though the number of people along with vehicles is increasing, the number of roads is not. No solution is in the sight either and the on-going construction of the metro rail has made matters worse.

Many hope that the situation may improve once the metro rail is opened, but many are not that optimistic as they do not see much scope for improvement. A comprehensive plan is missing. Whatever is being done is partial or on ad hoc-basis. New infrastructure with no order in the system is not any solution. The entire public transport sector of Dhaka is mostly private owned. The state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) has hardly a tangible presence.

Accidents are prevalent along Dhaka roads. Deaths and injuries are common due to the rash competition of the private buses. Though traffic jams have decreased, the speed of the buses, competing for passengers, has resulted in serious chaos. The High Court recently issued directives to bring order to the system.

The High Court directives asked to initiate a franchise system for all the metropolitan cities of the country including Dhaka. All the buses on a single route must be brought under one company. All the bus companies of a single zone or line would be supervised by a single company which will then distribute the profit among the concerned companies. There would be separate colour codes for buses of separate zones.

In most of the developed countries, bus services are run under franchise system in the cities. Dhaka desperately requires this system. Immediate action should be taken to implement the High Court order. The owners and workers of the bus companies should cooperate. Even quarters benefitted under the existing system should heed the court directive in public interest.

Let initiative be taken to fulfill the High Court order to bring the bus services of Dhaka and all other cities of the country under the franchise system. The double-decker buses owned by Bangladesh Road Transport Sector could be a boon to the public transport system across the country.