Bangladesh’s first metro rail is set to be launched next year
The Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) is considering a fare of Tk2.4 per kilometre of travel on Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) route 6, stretching from Uttara to Kamalapur.
The total fare for a full trip on the 20.1km route will stand at Tk40.25 if the rate is adopted.
The country’s first metro rail is expected to become operational next year. An estimated 60,000 passengers will travel per hour on the route from 6am to 10pm, amounting to 960,000 people using the metro rail every day.
About Tk 2.33crore will be required each day to run the metro rail, which is achievable if 483,000 people use it for travel every day, according to an official who asked for anonymity as the fare is yet to be finalized.
The metro rail fare fixing committee will sit for another meeting to finalize the fare soon.
“We have held rough discussions on the operational cost and fare. DMTCL has been asked to prepare a draft of fare rate,” said Khandakar Rakibur Rahman, convener of the committee and executive director of the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA).
“After analysing the proposal, we will fix the rate and send a proposal to the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry for approval,” he told Dhaka Tribune recently.
Mohammad Abdur Rouf, additional project director (finance and admin) of MRT-6, said: “We are working on the proposal. We will incorporate the opinions of several stakeholders.”
The Road Transport and Bridges Ministry formed the seven-member fare fixing committee on September 9 last year. Apart from the convener, the six other members of the committee are from Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation, Bangladesh Railway, DMTCL and DTCA. AKM Hafizur Rahman, additional executive director (Mass Transit) of the DTCA, is member secretary of the committee.
Factors affecting the fare
The committee is considering various factors when setting the fare, including project costs, administrative costs and maintenance costs.
The distance between Motijheel and Uttara, number of passengers, daily operation hours, expected occupancy rate and distance between stations are also being considered.
“We will even consider the income status of commuters to make the fare comfortable for all,” said Abdur Rouf.
The estimated cost for operating and maintaining the metro rail stands at Tk69.91crore per month, or Tk2.33 crore per day.
Cost of component/per day
Payments to government
How does the expected fare compare with other transports?
Currently, buses charge about Tk1.7 per km and mini-buses Tk1.6, amounting to a total cost of about Tk30 for travel from Uttara to Motijheel or Kamalapur. Although this is far cheaper than the expected Tk48.25 fare for a full trip on the metro rail, buses take about twice as long to cover the distance.
Travel from Uttara to Kamalapur on the metro rail is expected to take only 40 minutes.
“Metro rails, except those that are run by private operators, get government subsidies in most countries to keep the fare down. This ensures smooth operation and encourages people to shift away from buses for commuting,” said Dr Shamsul Haque, a prominent transport expert and professor at the civil engineering department of Buet.
“If the fare is almost double on the metro rail, then bus passengers will not be interested,” he warned.
The estimated project cost of the metro rail is Tk21,985.07 crore. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will give Tk16,594.59 crore as project aid.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction work of the metro rail on June 26, 2016.
As of January 2021, the overall progress of the project stood at 56.94%. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on January 3 said that the construction work would be completed by June 2022.
Fare in neighbouring countries
At least 10 metro rails are subsidized and operational in India. Commuters using metro rails pay the highest fare per km in Mumbai and the lowest in Kolkata.
The 27.22km Kolkata Metro line is the oldest in the country, as well as the busiest and cheapest mode of transport. Commuters pay Rs10 for travelling 2-5km and Rs25 for 20-25km, which equals to Tk11.70 and Tk 29.25 respectively. (1 Rupee = 1.17 Taka)
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) yearly loss is more than Rs350 crore. Commuters on the metro rail currently pay Rs10 (Tk11.70) for travelling 0-2km and Rs40 (Tk46.80) for 12.21km.
Mumbai Metro is the most expensive mass transit service in India, demanding Rs20 (Tk23.40) for 0-2km of travel and Rs80 (Tk93.60) for 20-25km.
The Punjab Mass Transit Authority (PMA) of Pakistan fixed a fare of Rs40 (Tk46.80) per passenger per trip on their 25.58km metro service for six months. The PMA is looking to increase the fare in stages.