I got involved with different aspects of the metro rail project when the plan to add this service in the public transport system of the capital was taken up in 2005. Since then, the hopes of adding this new dimension to the public transport system have been rising. In reality, there is no public transport system in Dhaka.
Public transport is a system with specific stations and passenger vehicles will leave from these stations on time. There should be an assurance that the passengers will be able to reach their destinations after getting on the vehicles from these stations. So is the system in the modern world.
For so long, the bus was the main source of public transport in Dhaka. However, there are no specific stoppages. There is no culture of maintaining punctuality either. Now the city dwellers will get the metro rail service. Metro rail is recognised as a culture of punctuality in the world. It is possible to create this culture in Dhaka also with the help of the metro rail service.
Metro rail is not only a fast-speed transport. It has impacts on the entire transport system. For instance, the launch owners in the southern part of the country were forced to reduce the fare after the launching of the Padma Bridge. They are now trying to give the best services during launch trips. In the same way, the metro rail service can create an additional pressure to improve services.
There is nothing called service in our bus transportation system. People will not be willing to travel on buses when they will see that they can reach their destinations on metro rail on time without the hassles of traffic congestion. This will affect the bus owners and they will have no other way than improving the service and collecting a reasonable fare from the passengers. For this, the metro rail authorities will also have to be cautious to maintain the service quality and cleanliness. Otherwise, people will turn away from them. Besides, the arrangements near the stations should be improved to avoid traffic congestion.
The impact of the launching of the metro rail service on the Uttara-Agargaon route cannot be assessed right now as the areas along this route are residential areas. The offices are mainly located in the areas along the route from Farmgate to Motijheel. Therefore the impact of this service can be realised only after the launching of the metro rail service on the route up to Motijheel or Kamalapur. And the impact will be huge once the construction of the entire six-line metro rail network is completed.
The government is planning to launch underground and elevated metro rail services in future. These projects would be expensive. It will be difficult for the common people to afford these services. Therefore, the government may consider launching light rail transport or monorail service. Although it would not be as fast as the metro rail service, it would be cost-effective. Besides, the arrangements for getting on to the main roads from the densely-populated areas like Old Dhaka or Bashabo should be made smooth. Only then, it will be possible to develop an integrated and reliable transport system.