The Financial Express

Buses run staring at losses

Number of passengers travelling by buses is very poor amid the Covid-19 pandemic

MUNIMA SULTANA | Published: June 07, 2020 09:34:33 | Updated: June 08, 2020 12:12:21

Passengers wait for their bus to pull out of the central bus terminal in Gaibandha — Focus Bangla/Files Passengers wait for their bus to pull out of the central bus terminal in Gaibandha — Focus Bangla/Files

Amid allegations of charging extra fare against transport operators and ignoring social distance, owners now complain about not getting adequate passengers to run their bus services.

Long-haul bus operators mainly complained about not getting minimum passengers against their fuel costs as buses are running with some passengers in one way.

They claimed to be operating buses with a poor number of passengers from Dhaka to other districts.

"Keeping services on is now difficult for us with giving daily demurrage," said an owner.

City bus operators also claimed passengers are thin on different routes.

Most operators do not run half their buses in what they describe as inadequate passengers against the permissible number of seats.

The FE observed a lack of passengers at some points, including Press Club to Mirpur-1, Mirpur-1 to Mirpur-12 and Mirpur-12 to Gulistan.

But there was always a try from drivers and helpers to get more passengers.

They also tried to get higher than 60 per cent increased rate of fares from irregular passengers.

But disinfectant and hand sanitiser were seen hardly sprayed on the routes in question.

In some cases, it was assumed that they had sprayed water instead of disinfectant.

Showing an empty bottle, a helper of Al Makka Paribahan said it was finished.

Al Makka director Mohammad Shahjahan told the FE over phone that they have to give Tk 1,000 in demurrage daily as they cannot get 10 passengers against permissible 20 seats.

Half of their buses are not run on the streets, he state.

Mohakhali Bus Terminal Owners Association president Abul Kalam Azad said 30-per cent buses of his terminal have resumed the service since the lockdown was relaxed on June 01.

But none gets minimum passengers to continue the service.

"After running six days, I could not take Tk 2,000 to my home after operating my 11 buses out of 30 on long routes," said Azad who owns Poly Paribahan.

Continuing the bus service is not a wise decision when people are still scare about coronavirus as well as business did not get momentum, he mentioned.

Sadiqur Rahman Hiru, senior president of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation, said the number of passengers has gradually fallen from the day of starting the service.

"People are conscious about health issues and not willing to move from one place to another in case of emergency," he told the FE over phone.

"With one-way passengers, the minimum cost of operation cannot be collected," he said.

According to sources, 190 buses out of 600 buses are now operating their services on average from Mohakhali and 1,200 out of 1,500 from Fulbaria terminal.

Transport owners and workers said they were in hardship during the lockdown period, but after withdrawal they even cannot earn their minimum daily needs.


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