To make the bus-based solution for public transport in Dhaka effective, one of the options is shot-route circular or semi-circular bus service. Two such bus services are available now. One is Hatitjheel circular bus service and the other is Dhaka Chaka in Gulshan area.
The concept of circular or semi-circular (when orbiting a central point is not possible) bus service is simple. The buses circle a centre point by touching several peripheral points where passengers get on and get down. Through these buses, commuters can travel a short distance faster and easier.
In a city like Dhaka which grows unplanned in most of the time, it is very difficult to introduce a standard circular bus service. But running a kind of semi-circular short-route bus service is not impossible. In fact, this kind of bus service is essential as Dhaka is now the most densely populated city in the world.
A large number of people in Dhaka need to travel within a short distance regularly. For them, there is no comfortable public transport. They have to rely on rickshaws and motorbikes, and those are costly and risky. Many also ritualistically struggle to board on long-route intra-city buses. This is a troublesome journey. It is not even possible to walk smoothly thanks to footpaths being occupied by makeshift shops or being broken in many places for construction works.
Short-route semi-circular buses can easily cater the demand of these commuters if operated in a planned manner. They would not then need to board on intra-city long-route buses. For instance, people who regularly travel from Paltan area to Karwanbazar area have to take their trips in buses plying from Gulistan to Mirpur or Uttara via these and other different points. If a bus service from Gulistan to Farmgate were there, commuters of these points could avail the service. This will also reduce pressure on intra-city long-route buses. Again, semi-circular bus service can easily ply in the shorter route like Moghbazar-Bangla Motor-Karwanbazar-Moghbazar at least in the peak hours.
It is already acknowledged by transport authorities that there are too many bus routes in Dhaka and a good number of them overlap each other. That's why there is a plan to reduce the number of main routes to six. While this is a welcome move, this may not reduce the hassle of the short-distance commuters significantly. Rather, it needs to be supplemented by short-route bus services.
One may confuse semi-circular or short-route bus service with feeder bus service. The goal of feeder bus is transferring passengers from one big stoppage to another stoppage without halting at any stoppage in between. But semi-circular bus will carry passengers travelling short distance within a city by halting at a several stoppages.
The transport and traffic authorities should conduct a comprehensive survey on commuters to identify their origins and destinations of travel. The survey findings will help determine the requirements of short-route buses and the viability of the services.
Besides determining the requirements of the commuters, it is also important to set the design and structure of the buses for short-route services. Minibuses with wider door facility may be more suitable in this regard. Again, depending on the demand and frequency of commuter traffic, different routes may have different types of buses. Peak and off-peak hours also need to be considered carefully to avoid the additional cost of plying the buses.
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