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Saturday, November 24, 2012
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New addition to public transport

First 10 articulated buses hit Dhaka streets next month; 40 more to come

A fleet of 10 articulated buses is set to hit the streets in the capital next month to ease the city's chronic transport problem.

Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) is importing the fleet from India under an Indian line of credit. Another 40 buses will be brought in January, said sources in BRTC.

Ashok Leyland is supplying the buses -- single-deckers that are longer than other buses, yet manoeuvre easily on the roads.

Also known as bendy buses, these vehicles comprise two rigid sections but can bend in the middle. They are popular in many countries for their higher passenger capacity.

The articulated buses will ferry around 130 passengers per trip from early morning to late evening every day. The likely routes are Mirpur-Motijheel and Uttara-Motijheel, the BRTC sources added.

A new ticketing system, like that in Western countries, will also be introduced. Passengers will have to insert coins or notes into vending machines on the articulated buses to get their tickets. The doors will not open until the machine reads the ticket. The system is expected to help stop passengers travelling free.

Iftekhar Ahmed, chairman of IFAD Autos Ltd, the firm that has won the import contract of the buses and is the sole agent of Ashok Leyland, said, "A special feature of this bus is that it will have higher standing capacity [70 persons] than the seating [58 persons]."

Each bus would cost Tk 84 lakh, excluding taxes, he added.

Asked if the vehicles would have difficulty negotiating the city's already crowded roads, Iftekhar said the buses would ply the roads without any trouble, as their two carriages are flexible enough for making turns.

Talking to The Daily Star, Communications Secretary MAN Siddique said that recently the buses had been run on trial on some Indian roads similar to the major thoroughfares of Dhaka.

"We can now say that there will be no problem in operating articulated buses in Dhaka," he added.

The secretary also said a select group of drivers were being sent to Kolkata to learn how to drive and maintain the buses.

Due to their higher capacity, bendy buses are often used as part of bus rapid transit (BRT) schemes. However, the government's planned BRT scheme is still at a primary stage.

To meet the growing demand of passenger transport in the country, the government in 2010 decided to import around 1,000 buses from different countries.

The first lot of 275 single-deckers was imported from China in late 2010, followed by 255 single-deck buses from South Korea in 2011.

Recently, 290 double-deckers have been bought from Ashok Leyland.

Many of the double-deckers are now operating in Dhaka, Chittagong and some other districts.

IFAD Chairman Iftekhar Ahmed said 10 more double-deckers would arrive in mid-2013 as the Indian company is supposed to supply 300 buses.

Also in the pipeline is a fleet of 100 air-conditioned single-deckers. "Ashok Leyland will start supplying the vehicles in January and complete it by June," he mentioned.

The state-run BRTC has a fleet of 1,263 buses including 399 double-deckers. The company's strength will grow with the arrival of the new vehicles.

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These articulated buses are not suitable for cities with narrow congested roads in Bangladesh. Similar trials were made in London, UK and the concept failed miserably. Instead double deckers proved to be a better alternative. Does the BRTC have no time to analyse other's decisions and learn from their mistakes?

: Shabbir A. Bashar

We had our own production plant Progoti and I failed to understand why we are not producing buses for our own. Why we are importing from India and some other countries; it makes it impractical. Buying buses from overseas is an easy job, but maintaining them continuously is a tough one. We should have buses on our street that we can not only produce locally but maintain it cost effectively & efficiently. How many of those Volvo buses are on the street now and we paid fortune for those. Someone is making quick money at the cost of national interest; this must stop.

: Bharat Bidhata


  • jahidul islam
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 03:21 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    This is certainly another step forward of our slow walking transport system. The amount of people living in this small city is staggering but truly we are living here and we need better transport facility. Everyday, thousands of people are suffering from the poor transportation. The amount of time we waste in traffic jam everyday seems increasing gradually whereas we all expect to be reduced. The question is to what extent these buses are going to alleviate the sufferings of the public? The answer, you know it, is nothing at all. The first reason for that will be 'lack of enough routes', second will be poor maintenance of routes. If you don't have enough room, on the roads, for the existing vehicles then where these will go. Certainly, they are not going to run on air. It will only increase the existing traffic jam and sufferings of mass people.

  • Abdul Latif
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 02:59 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Given Dhaka's current state of congestion, these buses will invariably add to the congestion. In terms of technology it is doubtful if these buses will represent the state of the art. And price-wise, Chinese buses would cost almost half.

  • A Banhalee
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 04:12 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    There may be lot of accidents due to the length of the bus. There may be mistake in calculation. Most of the accidents will happen near the last wheel of the bus.

  • Abul Kalam
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 04:20 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    I think mini buses should be banned in the routes where articulated bus and double decker buses are being imported in greater numbers.

  • Ridwan Quaium
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 11:50 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    A good initiative indeed to solve the acute public transport crisis. However, public buses will become more effective and will be able to transport more people in the city in a less amount of time if they are allowed to run on 'bus only lanes'. What I am talking about is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Believe me, a lot of the traffic congestion and road safety issue in the city will be solved if buses are provided to operate on 'bus only lanes'. BRT has been successful in many countries.

  • Anonymous
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 06:43 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Is there any space on Dhaka streets for these big buses?

  • rch
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 05:26 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    This is called project implementation, Bangladesh Style. How could you buy such a bus without a single trial run during Dhaka rush hour to test out whether it will work or not?

  • Saifuddin
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 06:48 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    I think the double decker bus will be more effective than this articulated buses as our roads are always crowdy and lack enough spaces. And it will be hard to maintain road safety for our drivers and I think ticketing will also be hard, as back door will always remain a chance to get in or out.

  • Abu Rayhan
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 09:09 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    It’s a very good initiative by the government to strengthen state-run BRTC. With the addition of new buses in its fleet BRTC will be able to help government’s effort to improve traffic situation in the city. At the same time the government has to look for ways of enhancing the efficiency of BRTC. To achieve this there has to be an improvement in the management of BRTC. Scopes for pilferage and wastage of resources in BRTC have to be sealed to transform it into a profit making corporation. Once BRTC starts to make profit then it will be ready to expand operation on its own without renewed investment from the state coffer. It can be said that an efficient BRTC will deliver much better service to city dwellers than what it is presently doing thus helping government’s effort in a great way to improve traffic situation in the capital. In addition to strengthening BRTC the government has to increase the pace of implementation of all components of Strategic Transport Plan (STP) in order to rid the city from its perennial traffic problem.

  • Ashiq
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 09:13 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    This will make the traffic movement critical. We should only go for double deckers, not such long vehicle transport.





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