Many students in Dhaka city rely on public transports to travel to their educational institutions and back. Showing the identity cards issued by their respective schools/ colleges/ universities, students enjoy a 50 per cent concession against the actual prices of ticket. Following a student demonstration in 2021, the government issued a gazette notification announcing half bus fare for students. Since then, students have been enjoying this facility as a right. And this waiver has helped many students save some money. It may seem to be a scanty amount of money to many but for the students it is a big help.
The Dhaka metro rail service has no half-fare ticket system for students. It is free for the children less than three-feet height and freedom fighters while people with disabilities get 15 per cent waiver against the ticket fare. But there is no discount for school, college or university-going students. Metro rail is a state-run project. If it charges students full fare, it will look like two separate rules in one country - state-run BRTC buses allowing students half fare while metro rail is doing the opposite.
'Half pass' in public transport is not a new concept. One of the 11-point demands made by the students of Dhaka University on the eve of the mass uprising of 1969 was to ensure half fare for students in public transport. The then-Pakistan government was forced to implement it. The system has been in place for many years after independence and it has become a kind of culture.
Most middle-class families in Dhaka city want their children to get the best education possible, but the cost of a metro ticket may prove to be a burden for these families. The authorities have fixed the minimum per kilometre fare at Tk 5 for the metro rail services, which is Tk 2.5 in public buses. A single trip from Uttara to Motijheel will cost Tk 100 in metro rail. A student in Uttara attending her/his college situated in Motijheel will have to pay Tk 200 every day as transport cost. Isn't it too much for a student?
When completed, Dhaka metro rail, the first-ever electricity-powered public transport is expected to carry 60,000 passengers per hour. And by metro train, it will take less than 40 minutes to travel to Uttara from Motijheel. Such transportation will not only play an important role in the economic growth of the country but also change people's lifestyle. The students of South Dhaka will be able to go to a college or university in North Dhaka and return thanks to the metro rail service. Every student in Dhaka city should be able to study in the institutions of their choice.
Students across the world enjoy various facilities. One of those is paying half fare when travelling by public transport. It is practised in many countries including our neighbouring India. Half ticket fare in public buses is a constitutionally given right of the students. In that case, the metro rail should also follow the same rule.