If festival time is a time for great reunion, it is also a rush time of immense magnitude. Since the country's transportation system is largely dependent on road communication as against rail communications in populous countries, before the two Eids -greatest festivals of all here, the pressure is heavy at the bus counters of cities and towns for tickets. Following the demand-supply theory, tickets not only become the most sought-after possession but also pricey. This happens in defiance of the instructions from the authorities -- for years anarchy reigned supreme in ticket sale a couple of weeks before the two festivals. Black marketing of tickets along with various other irregularities and malpractices made the whole system so infamous that at one stage the authorities had to intervene and post law-enforcement agencies for supervision of orderly ticket sale on the first-come, first-serve basis.
This worked wonder for a few years but this year reports have it that tickets have vanished soon after the private bus companies started selling advance tickets from counters at the three main bus terminals of the city on July 26. Most people intending to purchase tickets had to be frustrated. They sense rat in the management of advance ticket sales. These are early days to know if tickets will be available from black market at much higher prices. Should that happen, ticket-seekers will prove right. Now that the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) and the Bangladesh Railway (BR) also have made their tickets available for advance booking, let the two agencies ensure that ticket-seekers are served fairly and in a most disciplined manner. Complaints of malpractices could be done away with if cent per cent booking of tickets could be made online. But this will deprive a segment yet to have access to computer, smartphone or internet. In future when penetration of internet and digital devices will be all encompassing, such online ticketing can be made the order of the day.
While demand for tickets of every type of long-route transports-vessels such as launch and steamers included-goes up, it must be admitted the country's transportation system falls short of the abnormally heightened requirement. Although, the BRTC and the BR add a good number of buses and trains to their existing fleet to cope with the heavy rush, the effort proves inadequate for the inherent deficit in capacity. However, home-bound people have also become innovative knowing full well the ordeal they have to go through during the journey on the eve of festivals. Those who can afford, send members of their families homes weeks before the rush begins. The head of the family then travels alone.
A note of caution may not be out of place here. Every year, private bus and launch owners are used to press into service ramshackle vehicles and vessels after casual repair and application of a fresh coating of colour. They do so out of commercial consideration to the neglect of safety issues. Tragedies befall passengers on board such vehicles and vessels. The authorities must ensure that transport operators cannot play with the lives of people desperate to get reunited with their near and dear ones at their village homes.