Bangladesh halves student fares on state-owned buses amid protests

Students from several colleges block Dhaka’s Science Laboratory intersection on Thursday, Nov 25, 2021, demanding a half-price discount on bus fare. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove
The government has decided to reduce fares by half for students travelling on state-owned BRTC buses in the face of heated protests.

The decision has been taken with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's approval and the new rate will be in effect from Dec 1, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said on Friday.

"This is the government of the people and we give the highest priority to any demand that is close to them and is logical."

"Once the decision is implemented, students will be able to travel on BRTC buses at the discounted rate.

In order to get the concession, students must have valid identity cards containing their photographs, issued by their educational institution.

BRTC buses will offer a 50 percent discount on fares from 7 am to 8 pm.

"But the discount will not be available on holidays for educational institutions. The BRTC will issue a notification soon,” said Quader.

Students have been protesting in Dhaka for the discount on bus fares for days after the rates were increased following a hike in diesel prices.

Then came the death of a Notre Dame College student in an accident involving a city corporation vehicle on Wednesday, adding a new dimension to the ongoing protests.

Although the government has provided student concession on BRTC buses, the number of buses operated by the state-owned corporation pales in comparison to the number of passengers in Dhaka. As a result, the move will be of little benefit to students unless it is applied to private buses.

Quader said a meeting would be held at the BRTA office on Saturday to discuss expanding the 'concession' for students to privately-owned buses.

"Hopefully, transport owners will make a positive decision, taking into account their social responsibility and the students' demands."