Passengers have voiced concern over buses charging them extra fares despite the introduction of e-ticketing, a method to prevent misconduct and discipline runaway public transport.
Buses are supposed to pick up passengers only from pre-assigned stations, but the drivers and their assistants breach the rules by stopping anywhere they find travellers.
On top of that, the buses ask each passenger to pay Tk 10 as the minimum fare for a kilometre for an e-ticket.
The allegations appeared valid after this correspondent visited Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Shyamoli and Asad Gate on Saturday.
Mehedi Hasan, a Prajapati Paribahan passenger, said he asked for a ticket to Asad Gate from Mirpur No. 1, but was handed a ticket to Ghatarchar and charged an additional Tk 8. That means he paid Tk 21 instead of Tk 13.
Mehedi called for the monitoring of the new method.
Meantime, bus owners and leaders of the owners’ association advised passengers to stay vigilant against extra fares and buses stopping at unassigned locations for passengers.
And they hoped that the proper implementation of the new rules will settle the public transport mayhem by creating “a transparent and friendly” environment.
Rayhan Siddique travelled from Uttara to Mirpur’s Purabi Cinema Hall on a Paristhan Paribahan bus on an e-ticket for the first time. He was mostly happy.
“I was able to travel the route with a Tk 19 ticket where it had taken me Tk 30 for the same trip previously,” he said. But he mentioned that the bus staff picked up passengers from random locations, which delayed his journey.
In Mohammadpur, commuters were seen exiting packed buses, with assistants wading through a crush of passengers to collect cash from them.
Ramiz Uddin Ratan, who travelled from Asad Gate to Mohammadpur bus stand on a Prajapati Paribahan bus, said he had to pay Tk 10 for riding a stretch of 1.5 km. “I used to pay Tk 5 for the distance before.”
In Mirpur, several Nur-e-Makkah Paribahan buses were parked haphazardly in front of the National Zoo. Driver Ruhul Amin said online ticketing, which set off on Wednesday, did not fetch enough fares to cover the expenses for the trips.
“We are making two trips in place of the four -- to cut losses.”
Abdul Mazid, a passenger from Basabo, thinks all the fares collected from e-ticket-bearing passengers “clearly go to the owners”, making it difficult for the bus staff to pocket illegally collected fares. The drivers and their assistants are trying to make an “artificial crisis” by reducing the number of trips.
On this allegation, KM Raiqul Islam, the managing director of Prajapati Paribahan, said: “It’s been only five days since e-ticket services began. So it’s not yet been properly evaluated but we’re not profiting as much as we did before. That’s quite clear.”
He advised passengers to be cautious about not being charged higher fares and not being handed tickets to locations farther than their destinations.
Rafiqul urged the city corporations to help arrange seats for passengers at bus stops and counters to deliver a fresh and permanent image of the new method.
Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association, was convinced about the “effectiveness of e-ticketing”. He said the system was being tested on seven bus services.
“We’re also receiving complaints that passengers are being handed tickets for trips farther than their destinations to charge them extra fares. We are thinking about what we can do about it,” he said.
Enayet Ullah said all bus owners were in unison to adopt e-ticketing for all services in the capital to settle the chaotic fare system in public transport.