By starting the formal trial run of Dhaka's first ever metro rail service on the viaduct in the last week of August, Bangladesh has entered the age of train-based mass rapid transit (MRT). This is a unique development reflecting the country's gradual effort to transform hazardous public transport into modern, smooth and dynamic modes. Although it will take another year to complete the trail run and finish the construction of all 16 metro stations, it is now time to create awareness of the appropriate use of the metro rail.
Some people of the country have minimal experience in commuting on board a metro train when they travelled cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Bangkok in Asia or some European cities. To them, Dhaka Metro will not be an unfamiliar mode of public transport. Nevertheless, a large number of potential commuters have no experience of MRT or metro trains. They may, however, easily browse the internet especially YouTube finding how the metro trains are operating in other countries of the world. This will help them attain some knowledge about the metro rail. It is, however, the responsibility of the metro rail authority to disseminate ideas of operation of the Dhaka Metro.
In fact, the metro rail authority should prepare and distribute a pamphlet or booklet illustrating the different aspects of metro rail. There should be a clear guideline on purchasing tickets at the stations, entry and exit systems, boarding on and disembarking from the train etc. Beside the booklet, short videos may also be prepared to demonstrate how the metro rail is used. All these are necessary to create awareness and also provide the basic ideas about the metro rail.
Already a few enthusiastic people have started to disseminate some pieces of information about the operations of metro rail. More will join the effort in near future. There is, however, a risk of providing misinformation. That's why Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd (DMTCL) needs to prepare and publish the official guiding booklets and videos. The company may also provide all necessary information to print and electronic media for wider circulation of the guide or user manual of metro rail. Passenger information like 'do's and don'ts' in Bengali and English also have to be publicised widely when the time to start full-fledged operation of Dhaka Metro will comes closer. Information on fares, time-schedule and stations has to be available on the DMTCL website.
For such a new mode of public transport, a wide display of safety and security features is necessary. Passengers also need to know about the emergency situation like getting stuck inside the coach due to power disruption. The list is long and there is no way to avoid the exercise. This is a challenge for DMTCL as providing accurate, details and updated information on any service is still not in the practice in this country.
A government-owned company, the DMTCL may develop the tendency of following the beaten path of lethargy and callousness, which is not desirable at all. To make an optimal use of a project costing around Tk 220 billion, commuters need access to all kinds of operational information without hassle.