Dhaka needs a city school bus service now!

8:45 am

As I frantically looked at my watch to realize I was 35 minutes late for school, I cursed Shahbagh’s horrible traffic. To me, it was nothing less than a heinous, stubborn monster – one that I had to kill every morning.

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In fact, it’s not just me who has such feelings about Dhaka’s crippling traffic, but rather thousands of school-going students face similar adversities.

However, a solution has been proposed, one that is seen by many as the light at the end of the tunnel – a city school bus service. This service is expected to reduce the number of private vehicles traveling to school and thus lessen traffic during school hours. For a transport service like this to succeed, it must be better than the private transport currently in use. It must encourage parents and students to abandon private transport for public transport service.

One way to ensure this is to ensure that the city’s school bus service is safe. Parents are extremely skeptical about the safety of public transport, as they often use questionable practices, including the use of unsuitable vehicles and the hiring of unqualified drivers. Such practices have resulted in multiple deaths over the years, eroding most parents’ confidence in public bus services.

Thus, the authorities must strictly regulate these services, ensuring that the appropriate safety rules are observed. Students should be dropped off and picked up safely at designated bus stops. Experienced drivers should be hired for such a service and malpractice, such as dropping off students from a moving bus, should be avoided.

The bus service must be cheaper than private transport, so that a majority of students can afford it. Subsidizing such a service can mean lower rates for students. There should also be a table regarding bus route fares to ensure that bus drivers do not charge students extra money. Convenient ticketing services such as annual or monthly passes should also be offered.

In addition, these buses must be used exclusively for students and not for the collection of regular fares. Once a bus is finished for the day, it must return to the bus depot to ensure proper maintenance. It’s about making sure these buses stay clean, with working machines and seats in good condition. Many students simply choose to opt for private transport, as it is much more comfortable than public transport. Ensuring buses are well maintained and not overcrowded means they are comfortable enough for students to use.

Public buses often tend to wait unnecessarily for passengers, resulting in unnecessary waste of time. However, these school buses must be punctual and only stop for a set period of time. Data from schools and colleges should be used to plot routes that provide maximum coverage for students, while being efficient at the same time.

Like most development plans, the benefits of such a city school bus system can only be realized through proper implementation. If executed correctly, such a service can go a long way in alleviating the woes of students in the capital.

Hrishik thinks he is growing up to be a disappointing student. See him cry over his chemistry class at [email protected]

Melvin Z. Madore