All bus services are scheduled to resume today more than two months later after a government decision to lift the lockdown and a 60 per cent hike in fare against a proposal of 80 per cent increase in the coronavirus situation.
The government on Sunday hiked the bus fares on condition that all buses would run at 50 per cent capacity to maintain social distancing and other health regulations during the pandemic period.
The circular issued by the road transport and bridges ministry also said that after the crisis the previous rates of fare for all inter-district and city service buses would be reinstated.
Protesting at the decision of fare hike, rights activists and political parties urged the government to withdraw the decision as it would only increase the sufferings of the passengers, besides making the sector more chaotic.
Meanwhile different transport operators said that long route bus tickets would be available both online and at counters before journey.
Earlier on March 26 the government imposed a ban on the movement of road public transports to contain COVID-19. On Friday at a meeting the ministry decided to resume all bus services from today.
The road transport ministry on Sunday afternoon issued the circular which also said that there should be an adequate gap between two passengers while every aisle seat would have to be kept vacant and all transport workers would have to follow health regulations.
On Saturday, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority committee recommended an 80 per cent increase in bus fares while the bus owners demanded a 100 per cent increase.
On Sunday morning, road transport minister Obaidul Quader in a video conference said that the recommended 80 per cent increase would put extra pressure on passengers while the government would also have to assist the transport sector.
Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh in a press release issued on Sunday said that the increased bus fares went against the interest of the passengers who were already struggling to maintain their livelihoods.
The government, on September 16, 2015, for the last time revised the fares of buses and minibuses running in Dhaka and Chattogram metropolitan cities, fixing Tk 1.70 for buses and Tk 1.60 for minibuses per kilometre and the minimum fare at Tk 7 for buses and Tk 5 for minibuses.
At that time the fare of buses and minibuses running in the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority areas (Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Gazipur, Manikganj and Dhaka districts) was fixed at Tk 1.60 per kilometre.
On May 4, 2016 the government reduced the highest rate of fare for a kilometre for the diesel-powered buses and minibuses running on the inter-district and long routes (excluding Dhaka metropolitan city and its adjacent areas and Chattogram metropolitan city) from Tk 1.45 to Tk 1.42.
All these fare rates would be increased by 60 per cent as per the circular.
Meanwhile Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association vice-president and Mohakhali inter-district bus terminal owners association president, Abdul Kalam, said that the passengers would be given sanitisers to disinfect hands while all passengers and service providers would have to wear masks.
The drivers and their assistants would be given gloves, masks and glasses also, he added.
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