Mostafa Kamal Majumder
Some people are learnt to be critical of the circular bus service launched by the Mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation Annisul Huq because of the fixed Taka 15 fare charged for a single trip to any destination in the Gulshan-Baridhara-Banani circle. This feeling might come from short distance passengers, for instance those going from Gulshan No. 1 Circle to No. 2 Circle, because they could ordinarily cover the distance for a fare of Taka two or five only by local service buses of the city. For those travelling from Baridhara to Banani the fare might not appear to be exhorbitant. The question arises as people of the marginal scale fixed income bracket rely only on low-priced bus trips to travel to and from destinations. For those who rely on auto-rickshaws, pedal rickshaws or taxis the circular bus service is nothing short of an attractive alternative. How the Mayor responds to the requirement of people of the marginal scale fixed income bracket is to be seen. But overall there is no alternative to operation of area based circular bus services in the city of 200 million residents. Area based circular bus services would eliminate the most often unnecessary practice of running buses from one end of the metropolis to another, adding to traffic jam all the way. This is not to advocate the elimination of direct bus services from one point to another altogether. There would definitely be the need for direct buses, but those should in no way touch stoppages in between and should not block ways of other buses at stoppages to get additional passengers and thus avoid the creation of a chain of traffic jams all the way. At present most of the bus services running from one end to another in the city are found to become nearly half empty at some important traffic junctions like Asad Gate, Mohakhali, Kuril, Farm Gate, Science Laboratories, Shahbagh, Bangla Motors, Press Club, Azimpur, New Market, Gulistan, Nayabazar and a few others. Malibagh, Moghbazar, Kakrail, Fakirer Pool, Motijheel, Dainik Bangla are among important traffic junctions where many passengers embark on disembark from buses. A survey would reveal that a half of the buses that run from northern, northeastern and northwestern points of the city to Gulistan, Motijheel, Sadarghat, Saidabad and Jatrabari could easibly be turned to run circles to and from their starting points and Farm Gate, Asad Gate or Mohakhali. Several circular services connecing Farm Gate and Asad Gate and Mohakhali, Farm Gate and Shah Bagh, Asad Gate and New Market, Shahbagh and Motijheel, Shahbagh and Azimpur, Shahbagh and Sadarghat, Shahbadh and Jatrabari have potentials of running profitably. Such services would automatically make running so many buses from Mirpur, Gulshan, Tongi, Uttata, Gabtali and Mohammadpur all the ways to Saidabad, Jatrabari, Sadarghat, New Market and Dwakeshwari unnecessary. Only such number of direct buses can be afforded, which won’t need to touch stoppages in between two destinations, thereby reducing tailbacks that are created when buses stop indiscriminately creating traffic anarchy. The operators of buses, especially the conductors, will find it easy to collect bus fares and avoid quarrels with passengers as the points of origin and destination will be well defined. Circular buses will not haave to block ways of each other to compete for passengers and automatically reduce trip time and pressure on busy roads. Short distance passengers would not have to board heavily loaded long distance buses taking risks of life and pick-pocketing, but rather find seats on buses for comfortable trips. The need is for a coordination of town bus service plans between the city corporations, the Road Tranbsport authority and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
However, before such an all Dhaka City integrated bus service plan is prepared and implemented, the Mayor of the Dhaka South City Corporation, Sayeed Khokan, can start at least two circular bus services on the inner circular and outer circular roads covering Motijheel, Gulistan and Kakrail areas to provide easiy short-distance trips to commuters who have either to run after the long service buses which refuse short trip passengers. The short trip passengers now have to rely on rickshaws adding to traffic jam in the city’s busiest commercial districts. The availability of easily to ride bus services will also make taking cars or auto-rickshaws to the busy commercial areas unnecessary for many commuters. Why not take make a start like Annisul Huq of DNCC and then sit together to make an integrated bus transport plan for whole Dhaka. If they can achieve this they will be able to save millions of valuable working hours worth hundreds of crores of Taka of residents of the metropolis.