The question remains as to whether the bus owners will agree to carry half the passenger load. And if they do comply, will they decide to put up the fares? Many transport owners have already begun saying that their business will be hit hard if half the seats remain empty. Last year when the delta variant of coronavirus entered the scene, the transport owners kept half the seats empty on condition of doubling the fare. But given the traffic congestion in Dhaka city, this could not be done. So, instead, they kept both full capacity passengers and doubled the fare too.
The launch owners have announced that they will not increase fares. We hail their decision. We want public transport to operate normally so that passengers do not suffer and are encouraged to use public transport.
Bus fares cannot be increased under any circumstance. We seek the government's intervention to ensure that the passengers do not suffer any further
Secondly, if the government's decision to maintain health guidelines on public transport is to be maintained, then all the transport workers must be vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine. Most of the 2 million public transport workers have not been brought under vaccine coverage as yet. They are frontliners as categorised by the government and so should be vaccinated immediately.
The transport owners have questioned the justification of keeping public transport running at half passenger capacity while everything else remains open as normal. But what they didn't mention is that fares have risen by 30 per cent already on the excuse of fuel price hike. The passenger welfare association has protested against the increase in fares, pointing out that the owners would not face any losses even if the fares were not hiked. The government turned a deaf ear to the passengers at the time. If fares are increased yet again, the passengers will come under even more pressure.
We want to firmly state that whether the transport runs at full or half capacity, fares cannot be increased. The owners often claim that they are making losses and so increase the fare. We feel that bus fares cannot be increased under any circumstance. We seek the government's intervention to ensure that the passengers do not suffer any further. Rather than proposing an increase in fare, the owners should pay more attention to ensuring that passengers adhere to the health guidelines on public transport.