Published:  12:51 AM, 13 November 2017

Disordered public transport and passenger grievances

Passengers have a long list of complaints against public transport fare in Dhaka. Transport companies, on their self-will, transform their 'local buses' overnight into what it is called 'seating services.' And the trip fare per passenger is doubled on that occasion. Common people, who have no private cars to reach their workplaces, have to use public transport. But they have their grievances over the 'seating service' --- that quality of the service is not improved and also the buses are dilapidated.

All these objections often cause an exchange of heated words between passengers and bus staff. 'Seating service' means assuring commuters of enhanced services with no additional passengers to be boarded once all the seats are filled. But the absence of definite government regulations in this regard has given transport companies thge scope to take resort to arbitrariness and cheating of common people.

For a long time, every conscious citizen has been demanding the withdrawal of worn-out vehicles from the streets as a measure of passenger safety. The Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh has recently published a report where it is disclosed that 87 percent of buses and minibuses have already had their expiry dates come to pass. Most of those are painted with new color at times so that they look newer.

More importantly, the report says that market price of each of these buses is at best Tk 5-10 lakh. But transport fares are set showing that purchasing price, including bank interest, of each bus is Tk 47 lakh. Again, 96 percent of the vehicles, too, do not follow the fare chart. On the other hand, anarchy and passenger harassment in the name of 'seating service' is a regular phenomenon.

The bus fare is Tk 1.70 per kilometer while it is Tk 1.60 for minibuses. Moreover, the minimum bus fare has been fixed at Tk 7.00 while it is Tk 5.00 in minibuses. By paying the minimum charge, one can travel at least three kilometers at a stretch. Usually, there must be a chart of fare, according to the Vehicles Act, displayed at visible spots inside public transport. Who monitors whether these regulations are properly followed?

Harmony in the transport sector can be restored provided dilapidated vehicles are replaced with new ones. And passengers can feel reassured if harassment in transport can be stopped. In the meantime, the Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor has informed us that 4,000 new buses under five companies will be operated on Dhaka streets.

We hope that the enterprise will be implemented without any delay. It is expected that those buses will be run following all the legal bindings. Only a perfect transport management system can best handle passenger grievances.

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