Despite having higher prices, the growing business of bike services has somewhat overtrumped the business of public transport like bus services because of faster mobility. Now, the price from Uttara to Motijheel from a ride-sharing app is between 300 to 370 taka (varying from peak hour to off-peak hour) which is almost three times higher than the metro rail fare. A contrasting argument of private and public transport can be drawn here but based on the availability and certainty parameter, metro rail is a far better choice. The recent unavailability of bikes due to peak hours (especially office hours) will shift the common users towards the metro rail with a much more certain and cost-effective module.

The valuation of time has been important, making people choose to use a ride-sharing app with a higher price than public transport in the last 3 years. Now the same consumer pattern will work for metro rail as time-saving is the key selling point with a lesser price. So, from this point of view, the fare is justified in comparison to the alternative option.

We have observed an extremely poor intra-city bus service with no air conditioning, disrupted time management, zero safety measurement, vehicles with no fitness certificate, misconception of so-called seating service, and not so fixed pricing have made the option intolerable for people. This leads to a conclusion pointing to the irrationality of comparing the fare of bus service with the metro rail. Contrary to the depicted scenario of bus service, the metro rail service promises to be a comfortable ride for people with a huge number of air-conditioned trains and digital ticketing facilities. The problems of public transport are expected to be minimised for metro rail which is another justification for a slightly increased price. The people should be okay about paying a bit more in terms of comfort and mobility.

A noteworthy portrayal of metro rail is that it is the first disability-friendly public transport introduced in Bangladesh

Then there is the expectation of having a well-managed safe transportation facility from the metro rail authorities. From recent evidence, women are never safe in public transport which somehow made alternative transportation uneasy and costly for them. A huge chunk of working women prefers to use ride-sharing car facilities instead of bikes due to comfort and safety which costs them around Tk 750 for the Uttara-Motijheel Route. The start of metro rail can give them the option to have a safe, affordable, comfortable, and faster public transportation facility only for Tk 100 compared to the available options. Although this whole argument gets validity only if the promise is kept.

A noteworthy portrayal of metro rail is that it is the first disability-friendly public transport introduced in Bangladesh. Making life easier for disabled people with special discount facilities will surely add an advantage compared to the so-called inefficient disability seat facility in bus service. I think the government also needs to consider the half pass for students.

Lastly, there is a far-fetched chronicle- mostly focusing on the environmental negative externality. Paying less for a less environment-friendly fuel-based public transportation may be a rational option for the present, but can be extremely detrimental to the future generation. Rather paying a slightly higher price for an environment-friendly option can come up with better returns in the future. This might not paint a quick return but can be a long-term investment toward a sustainable environment.

To some extent, that the price has been high for the lower income bracket. But a huge middle-income target audience rationalises the pricing based on the time valuation, comfortability, safety, mobility, and sustainability. Of course, it depends on how precisely and accurately the promises will be fulfilled by the government regarding the services of this dream project. 

* Md. Shiyan Sadik is a Research Associate at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).