Cashless commuter bus service in Dhaka from next month

Dhaka,  Wed,  20 September 2017
Published : 17 Apr 2017, 22:04:06
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Cashless commuter bus service in Dhaka from next month

FE Report


Commuters can board any designated buses on Abdullahpur-Motijheel route under cashless fare-collection system from May, in the process of upgrading Dhaka's transport services.     

Officials said the starter is part of a foreign-aided project to introduce one-card-for-all-transport communications system.

The Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) will introduce the smartcard - a card based on uniform integrated circuit (IC). The card is named 'Rapid Pass' for passengers of the state-owned corporation's 25 air-conditioned buses running on the route daily.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on April 11 among the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) and the BRTC on fare automation using rapid-pass system on the city route from Abdullahpur in Uttara area to the capital's business-hub Motijheel.

The rapid pass can be used for journey on BRTC buses, metro rails and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) vessels on waterways.

About the merits this smart card or rapid pass, the officials said commuters in the capital need not wait in long queues anymore to buy tickets facing hassle of paying fares in cash inside the crowded vehicles.

A passenger can avoid all the hassles just by swiping the Rapid Pass at the bus entrance or gates of the stations and platforms, they noted.

"Initially, we have selected the Abdullahpur-to-Motijheel route of BRTC for piloting the digitised fare-collection system which, later, will be introduced on other routes in the city gradually," Syed Ahmed, Executive Director of DTCA, told the FE about the transformation of the capital's commuter traffic, commonly described as obsolete.

He expressed his hope that the automated fare-collection system would be launched in the middle of next month.

Some 50,000 passes will be brought from Japan shortly for the route, he said, adding that a private company that runs 50 buses daily on the route has also shown interest to introduce the rapid-pass system.

One has to pay Tk 400 to buy a Rapid Pass that contains a Tk 200 balance. There would be both Rapid Pass and traditional ticketing system for six months.

The DTCA will act as a clearing house which processes all Rapid Pass System transaction data and settlement of fares collected, while it will issue Card and be a coordination agency with BRTC, he explained.

Clearing House is a mechanism that integrates multiple transport operators into a common-fare-ticket system which is called 'One Card for All Public Transports'.

The 14-month-long piloting project will be carried out under JICA's technical cooperation under the DTCA project titled 'Establishment of clearing house for integrating transport ticketing system in Dhaka city area'. The project was undertaken in 2015 to introduce the smart IC-based card.

JICA is providing the major portion of funding for the project. Out of the project cost of Tk 390 million, the Japanese agency is providing Tk 285 million as technical assistance and the rest will be funded by the government.

Earlier under a pilot project, SPASS was introduced in two BRTC bus services in Dhaka in 2011 and 2012 and in commuter and DEMU (Diesel Electric Multiple Unit) service of Bangladesh Railway in 2013.

SPASS that was supposed to provide uniform tickets for passengers of all modes of transport - road, rail, water and mass-transit systems - and have facilities like recharge and reuse of the card to ensure cashless transaction and automated transport fair deduction according to distance, could not perform efficiently for its inability to provide real-time information of the IC card use as well as its outside-the-country server, sources said.

To overcome mismatch of information, the government has now taken the project to introduce the new IC card - Rapid Pass - by setting up a server in the country under the DTCA, officials said.

Recharge stations as well as banking arrangements have also been made for efficient and integrated use of the IC card.

munni_fe@yahoo.com
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