As Dhaka is likely to get five mass rapid transit (MRT) lines in the next 10 years, integration of common stations at different points remains a challenge for the authorities concerned.
Sources said the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd (DMTCL) has been trying hard to integrate Karwanbazar station and Mirpur-10 station of the under-construction MRT line-06 with MRT-05 north and south.
Besides, the DMTCL will have to integrate stations of MRT-01 and MRT-05 at different points which are now at the design stage and procurement stage.
The highest integration would be necessary at Natunbazar where three lines--two lines of MRT-01 and MRT-05 north--will traverse.
As no alignment for MRT-02 and MRT-04 stations is finalised, integration with others would be more challenging as four MRT lines will make good progress by this time.
Sources said the integration of the MRT lines at the planning stage is comparatively much easier than those at the construction stage with an approved design.
"This integration is necessary to allow passengers of one line to change lines under the same roof and within the non-paid area of the station," said an official.
However, DMTCL managing director MAN Siddique said the consulting teams of all MRT lines have already sat to integrate interchange stations.
He said the MRT lines, which would come later, would have to accommodate with those which are under construction or at the design stage.
"We're planning all MRT lines under an umbrella. So, integration or interfacing among each other is part of our plan," Mr Siddique told the FE over phone.
The DMTCL has been implementing MRT-06, MRT-01, and MRT-05 north and south. Of them, MRT-06 has reached the construction stage.
MRT-01 started the procurement process while MRT-05 north is carrying out detailed design work after confirming alignment with stations' location.
Besides, the company has just started a feasibility study of MRT-02 to find a confirmed route.
This line is planned for implementation under public-private partnership which is, however, a different mode of financing.
But there is no initiative yet to start any feasibility study of MRT-04.
Sources said MRT line-06 at Karwanbazar is coming through Farmgate in an elevated way while MRT-05 south from Panthapath underground.
As Karwanbazar area will have a ramp of Dhaka Elevated Expressway within a short span of space, integration has been more challenging than others.
MRT-06 will have to integrate Mirpur-10 station with MRT-05 which is at the design stage.
But two parts of MRT-01 and MRT-05 north will merge at Natunbazar station which is planned underground and will allow passengers to shift lines for heading towards the airport, Purbachal, Rampura, and Kamalapur.
MRT-05 south and MRT-01 will also have a common station at Hatirjheel.
MRT-6 station's design cannot be changed as an elevated structure on the corridor has already been built.
A consultant source said all MRT lines will try to make interchange stations functional but the challenge lies in keeping this interfacing within non-paid areas so that passengers need not go out of the paid zone to change lines.