How efficient is the BRTC?

Experts have insisted on strengthening the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation to alleviate the crisis of public transport and traffic congestion in Dhaka city, but the state-owned transport company has remained weak.

About 5,000 buses and minibuses transport passengers in Dhaka, of which 667 belong to BRTC.

Since there are few opportunities to increase and widen the roads in Dhaka, experts say that the number of buses has to be increased, especially double-decker buses, to reduce traffic congestion and cut down on wasted time.

According to BRTC data, of the 667 buses running across 45 routes in Dhaka, there are 445 double-decker buses and 222 regular buses.

In Dhaka, most of the BRTC buses are rented out to different companies. As a result, ordinary commuters do not get to enjoy the benefits of state-run buses.

Tayeb Hossain, a resident of Badda, said that he has to travel to Lalmatia every day for work. However, the number of buses travelling from Kuril Bishwa Road to Mohammadpur is very low.

"The buses arrive every 30-60 minutes. We've to wait for a long time to get one.”

According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, there are 386 approved routes in and around the Dhaka metropolitan area. As many as 10,279 buses and minibuses were approved on these routes. Of these vehicles, 8,169 are buses and the rest are minibuses. 

However, the Dhaka Road Transport Owners’ Association said that the maximum number of private buses and minibuses operating in Dhaka is 5,000. Despite the approvals, buses are not operating on many routes. The registrations of some buses have also expired.

With the addition of BRTC buses, the total number of buses on Dhaka roads is fewer than 6,000.

Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, president of the Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh, was unhappy that all BRTC buses are not used for public transport.

“There is no public transport on the roads of Dhaka. Most of the buses owned by BRTC have been rented to different organisations. As a result, its capacity to serve people has shrunk.”

This defeats the purpose of the government’s investment, he said.

Architect and city planner Mobasher Hossain says that when a BRTC bus is rented out to a government organisation for use as a staff bus it remains largely unused except when it picks up or drops off employees.

"If these buses were on the streets, they could serve the people. BRTC is a government institution and they have to think about public benefits rather than profits.”

Md Saleh Uddin, former executive director of the Dhaka Transport Coordinating Authority, said that BRTC needs to be given a lot more vehicles.

“This will reduce the abundance of small cars in the city. If the government provides 2,000-2,500 BRTC buses for Dhaka, it can have a massive impact.”