The Financial Express

Absence of efficient public transports is costly

File photo used for representational image File photo used for representational image

A commuter in Dhaka usually takes at least double the time to reach his/her destination. This is nothing but a waste of precious time and working hours along with costly fuel. Moreover, the waste also leads to air and sound pollution. All these are due to bad traffic on roads or traffic congestion. Nevertheless, there is hardly any step to address the problem effectively when some alternatives are available at hand.  

The main reason behind the traffic congestion in Dhaka is the absence of an effective public transport system. The Eighth Five-Year Plan (8FYP) identified the problem precisely. It said: "Non-existence of transport planning and inefficient traffic engineering result in low-quality traffic management. Public transport systems are poorly organised and there is a lack of integration with non-motorised vehicles. Buses are in short in supply and there is an inadequate rail system to handle day-to-day commuter traffic." 

The planning document thus stressed strengthening public transport. The document also outlined several measures along with different ongoing projects to streamline public transport in Dhaka. The document, however, doesn't consider the available low-cost options to make public transport efficient.  

It has already been proven that Dhaka needs a bus-based solution to address the problem of terrible traffic congestion. That's why, many have long been rightly argued that being a densely populated city, Dhaka needs a revamp of current bus-based public transport.  

Replacing the existing public buses and minibuses with low-floor, wide-door, easy-accessible buses is necessary. Air-conditioned luxury buses for those who can afford them should also be there. All the buses have to be commuter-friendly, especially for women, children and senior citizens. There should also be feeder and semi-circular buses to cover the short distance. Unfortunately, none of these is in sight.  

Another factor related to Dhaka's traffic congestion is the lack of adequate walkways. In Dhaka, walking is hazardous. Footpaths are limited and most of those are occupied by street vendors and motorcyclists. Some footpaths are in disrepair also, making it most challenging for pedestrians to walk smoothly. Many people prefer to walk covering a short distance and avoid any vehicles. They need to be encouraged which will reduce the use of transport vehicles like rickshaw, auto-rickshaw and motorcycle. 

Smooth walkways also help enhance the efficiency of public transports. After commuting a long distance, none would mind walking a kilometre from the bus stop to his/her home on a well-maintained footpath. The combination of the two will also reduce traffic congestion. 

Regular commuters in Dhaka have received repeated assurances from the authorities that a good day is ahead and they would enjoy travel in a congestion-free city soon. The day is yet to come and is unlikely to come in the near future. A decongested city is also a distant dream now. 

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