The Financial Express

E-ticketing runs into problems

| Updated: November 28, 2022 21:22:31

E-ticketing runs into problems

The bus operators, as reported, have deliberately reduced the number of buses plying Dhaka's roads after authorities introduced e-ticketing system. This is evidently an evil act by bus companies to stifle a good system that allows passengers the ease of buying tickets and foregoing the whole altercation process with bus conductors over fares, which is a very common event. From what has been revealed by a passenger welfare body, bus operators are apparently taking Tk 5 to Tk 10 on top of the e-ticket price because passengers are desperate to reach their destinations during office hours. One has justified reasons to be baffled by the bus operators having come up with a unique way to fleece passengers. It takes ingenuity to think so much outside the box!

Public transportation in the city has been in a terrible mess for decades. Unfit buses driven by inefficient drivers who drive their vehicles like a bat out of hell, wilfully flouting the law of the road, killing and maiming at will. The bus owners' various associations have held much sway in the corridors of power in successive regimes and for years, passengers bore the brunt of third rate services where ticket prices are changed whimsically. Hence when the e-ticketing system was introduced, there was a collective sigh of relief from commuters who had thought that they would, at least, be able to get to their destinations having paid for their tickets electronically.

Interestingly, commuters' feedback tells us that bus companies have raised the fare on certain routes whilst reducing prices on others. Invariably, it seems, the number of routes with higher ticket-fare outstrips ones where fare has come down. Experts state that the mere introduction of technology will do little to change a system that has been in place for generations. Rather, it is incremental changes backed up by strong monitoring by authorities to ensure that bus operators' stick to honouring e-ticket prices. That will have a significant impact on the ground. Otherwise, it will simply be business as usual after a few months, and things will have gone back to the way they were.

Bus operators also have their side of the story to tell. The average speed on Dhaka roads have come down to about 5km/hour. Most of the buses run on diesel oil and the price of which per litre has increased by 41 per cent in the last major price change by Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC). With traffic being as slow as it is, there must be rationalisation of fare. No operator will operate a bus service on a loss. Again, leaving things as they are is not an option for city authorities. Because then, bus operators will be exercising laissez faire which of course, no group in society can be allowed to exercise if we are to maintain some form of order. The city authority should only introduce a system (like e-ticketing) once it is ready to enforce it. The importance of this system cannot be underestimated because according to one passenger welfare association, passengers were fleeced some Tk 80 billion during the Eid journey last year. One can only hope that things will be somewhat different in the near future.

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