Drastic fall in passenger numbers forces owners to cut Dhaka-Barishal launch fares

Sunday, 3 July 2022

Staffers, along with the owners, believe many passengers would return to “more comfortable” launch trips once the hype over the newly opened bridge wears out, reports bdnews24.com.

Over the past week, the prices of tickets for trips on the launch decks were lowered to Tk 200 from Tk 350, first-class single cabins to Tk 1,000 from Tk 1,500, and double cabins to Tk 2,000 from Tk 2,500, said Babul Mia, an employee at MV Manami.

Travelling on second-class seats now cost Tk 100 to Tk 200 less than before, said launch officials who hope they will be able to sell tickets at regular prices again soon.

“[Prices dropped] because the number of passengers went down by half. We arrived at Barishal with only about 300 passengers on Thursday [Jun 30]. Everyone is interested in travelling through the Padma Bridge now despite it costing it a bit more,” Babul said.

Dipu Mia, an employee at Surabhi-9, said the number of passengers on the launch slipped to one-third of what it had been before the opening of the bridge a week ago.

“Single-cabin passengers are now travelling on buses. It takes just three hours. So why should they wait for five hours?”

Babul Sharif, an official at Barishal launch terminal, said seven launches would travel on the route every day.

Five launches set off from Barishal on Thursday and four arrived from Dhaka. And on Friday, only four set off from Barishal, he said.

According to Sharif, it takes around Tk 300,000 to Tk 400,000, including all charges, for each launch to make trips to and from Dhaka.

How the owners are supposed to run these vessels if the spending surpasses the income, he wonders.

“Around 500 to 700 passengers used to travel on the decks before. In contrast, just 200 people made the trip on Friday. The fares have also been cut. But the expenses remain the same.”

Md Humayun Kabir, an employee of Sundarban-10, showed similar concerns.

The owners and officials, however, are in keen wait to see what sort of rush occurs during Eid-ul-Azha.

The owners will hold a meeting after Eid to bring the passengers back to the launches, said Sharif. “Different steps will be planned in that meeting.”