Public transport

Previous fare must be ensured

Passengers huddle to ride a bus defying physical distancing rules amid coronavirus outbreak in Farmgate, Dhaka on 23 August 2020.
Passengers huddle to ride a bus defying physical distancing rules amid coronavirus outbreak in Farmgate, Dhaka on 23 August 2020.Prothom Alo File Photo
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As per the government announcement, 60 per cent of bus fare hike which was implemented on the condition that buses would carry 50 per cent of passengers due to coronavirus was withdrawn on Tuesday. The obligation to keep the 50 per cent of seats vacant has also been lifted with this. From now on, public transports can fill up 100 per cent of seats, but no standing passenger is allowed. Along with that, it is mandatory for everyone including passengers and transport workers to put on mask. On 19 August, the transport owners and the transport leaders pledged to return to the previous fares on such conditions and negotiations.

Life in the capital is almost normal amid the infection of coronavirus. The streets are as like the pre-coronavirus period. Mass transports remained shut since 26 March. They resumed on a limited scale since 1 June on various conditions including keeping half of the seats vacant. The government took a decision to increase the fare of buses and minibuses by 60 per cent. According to Prothom Alo reports, transport fares have been increased by 100 per cent too in some cases. The bus fare from Savar to Science Laboratory which had been Tk 40 before the coronavirus outbreak, was increased to Tk 80. The increase is 100 per cent.

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In this country, the fare or rent of anything usually does not decrease if once increased. Earlier, the price of oil came down after a very long time. At that time, bus fares were decreased on the face of demands, but sadly the government decision could not be implemented.

Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader earlier said it was true that the transport owners and workers did not want to listen. Yesterday he said legal action would be taken against those public transports defying government directives. On the first day, it was monitored on behalf of the ministry whether the reduced fare and other conditions were being followed in Dhaka, Chattogram and other places. The ministry's evaluation of the situation was satisfactory on the first day.

Though there is a law, there is no list of fares for buses and minibuses. Many passengers will not be able to guess how much decrease in the fares means return to the previous fares. Some of the transport owners and workers can take the opportunity. Therefore, it should be mandatory to hang the list of fare in transports.

Before coronavirus outbreak, minibus fare was Tk 1.60 and bus fare Tk 1.70 per kilometre. Long distance bus fare is fixed at Tk 1.42 per kilometre. These fares have not been followed till now. The passengers too silently paid the fare. It is desired that this abnormal fare would be decreased. It is the responsibility of the road transport and bridges ministry, BRTA, mobile courts, traffic police and the concerned persons to ensure this.

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The income of the people has decreased during coronavirus outbreak. Almost all the people who travel on public transports are poor or from lower middle class. Their family earnings are almost the same, rather the cost has increased in various sectors including buying masks. The extra fare must be reduced for their relief.

The road transport and bridges minister says the transport owners and workers do not want to listen, but why won’t they? If they cannot be made listen to, the weakness of the government is revealed. Such weakness was revealed for non-implementation of the Road Safety Act. Fear or pressure, whatever the reason, the act could not be implemented yet. Then how will the rule of law will be established?

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