South Asia

Can Dhaka really benefit from ‘Metro Rail’?

2022 is a year to be remembered by Bangladeshis. Padma Bridge, the pride of Bengal, was inaugurated last June. Bangladesh’s first metro will run this time within seven months. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the country’s first metro rail service on December 28, 2022.

Daily traffic bottlenecks are a major inconvenience for Dhaka City residents, but that commotion won’t last forever. They will soon be achieving their goals because they are already there. Residents of Dhaka city will be able to travel quickly and easily by Metrorail to their selected location in 2022. The Dhaka inhabitants will gain from Metro Rail in a variety of ways. As follows: 1. This will relieve the city of Dhaka’s citizens of the gridlock. 2. It will help people in Dhaka City save valuable time. 3. The trip will be extremely safe and comfortable. 4. Because the train is air-conditioned, passengers will feel quite comfortable.

5. City inhabitants will be able to travel cheaply and quickly to their destination. 6. The wait time for the train at the station is short for passengers. 7. There won’t be any chance to use a train without paying a fare, ensuring transparency. 8. The Metrorail’s coaches will be cozy, well-equipped, and comfortable. 9. Riders would be able to ride the Metrorail quite comfortably even while standing. 10. Each Metrorail station will be elegant and roomy, with no areas for groups to congregate.

The air in Dhaka City is heavily polluted by automobile smoke, but since the metro rail will be powered by electricity, it will be possible to maintain this communication system while also safeguarding the environment. This metro train’s ability to operate without interruption during a power outage is one of its main advantages. This metro train will be furnished with a wide range of contemporary amenities to allow passengers to travel conveniently and comfortably. Wide doors on this metro train will allow people to board and exit safely.

This metro rail would undoubtedly play a useful role in reducing traffic congestion, even if other efforts have been adopted at various periods to reduce traffic congestion in Dhaka city.

In addition to reducing traffic congestion in Dhaka, metrorail will significantly improve the city’s beauty and contribute significantly to the nation’s economic development. The citizens of Dhaka will be able to experience a different, one-of-a-kind, and magnificent Dhaka metropolis after the Metrorail project is finished.

The metro train carrying Dhaka residents to their places of employment or education is currently en route. Hopefully during December, the bijoy month, the red-green flag will be flying on the metro line.

Metro rail is essentially a quick transit system in many large cities all over the world. The Dhaka Metro Rail is a government initiative for the public transportation system in the Dhaka Metropolitan Area. According to research from the Brac Institute of Governance and Development, the average speed of vehicles on Dhaka’s roads dropped from about 21 (21.2 km/h) in 2004 to just 6 (6.8 km/h) in 2015. As a result, it takes more than 3 to 4 hours to travel by bus from Uttara to Motijheel.

Motijheel is around 40 minutes away from Uttara via metro train. These modes of transportation are anticipated to significantly contribute to the economic development of the nation by altering people’s lifestyles and lengthening their working hours. To introduce metro rail in Bangladesh, the government was putting forth the notion of the “Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project.” The project’s estimated total cost is $2.82 billion, of which JICA will provide roughly $2.13 billion at an interest rate of 0.01 percent. The remaining 25% of the cash will come from the Bangladeshi government.

On August 29, 2021, the first trial run between Dia Bari and Uttara was completed. It is planned that commercial operations on the Uttara-Agargaon route will start in December 2022. Every major government undertaking includes a commercial element. However, unlike other commercial endeavors, government-initiated projects do not have profit as their primary objective. Most of the time, the government loses money, thus it usually provides a sizeable subsidy so that people can benefit from easily accessible services.

This initiative hurts the country’s economy financially, but it also benefits it in other ways. The metro train will cost about Tk2.33 crore per day to operate. Therefore, if 483,000 people use the metro train daily, it will be mentioned. These tariffs are merely estimating at this time; the exact cost of taking the metro rail has not yet been calculated.

Congestion in traffic causes a considerable economic loss in Bangladesh. According to a BUET study from 2018, the yearly cost of traffic congestion in Dhaka city is estimated to be $4.4 billion, or more than 10% of the national budget. A 2017 World Bank study found that traffic congestion in Dhaka results in a daily loss of 3.8 million working hours. When the cost of lost hours is taken into account, a large loss results, which is bad for the state of the economy.

According to Moazzem Hossain, director of the Accident Research Institute, Bangladesh could save $2.6 billion if traffic in Dhaka could be cut by 60%. Savings from the metro rail project will total $2.4 billion annually, or 1.5% of the nation’s GDP. More than 15 million people in Dhaka would benefit from the metro rail’s increased speed and ease of commuting, which will have a positive impact on the economy.

Bus shortages during peak hours, severe traffic, crowdedness, physical or verbal abuse, exorbitant prices, and the lack of metering in CNG and taxi cabs cause Dhaka city residents great suffering and decrease their desire to use public transit. The simple transportation service provided by metro rail would be advantageous to those who cannot afford it and are constantly inconvenienced by a lack of accessible transportation. Thanks to the air-conditioned transit system it will offer, a train will arrive at each stop every four minutes and carry around 60,000 passengers in an hour.

The rental income cannot entirely pay all of the MRT’s expenses, including its electricity costs, employee wages, maintenance, foreign loans, and government investment returns. The authority wants to do this by generating at least 30% of its revenue from sources other than ticket sales. Each station will have connections to a station plaza, a TOD, and other commercial establishments. Each TOD hub will have a world-class theme park, housing alternatives, a market for essentials, and retail establishments.

A large amount of labor will be needed for metro rail operation and maintenance, creating a large number of work opportunities. Every metro train station would include amenities such an operation room, ticket booth, lounge, trash disposal facility, prayer room, fire suppression system, escalator, lift, and more.

In addition, a group of people will be needed to operate the companies in the commercial areas near the stations. These jobs will stimulate the economy and eventually benefit the whole nation.

The metro rail will increase accessibility to transportation and encourage the expansion of various independently owned businesses close to the stations. Additionally, as a result of improved transportation infrastructure, both already existing businesses and future businesses will benefit. Overall, having these businesses close to stations and routes will have a significant positive impact on the nation’s GDP.

Metro rail will bring the citizens of our country into a new era of technological advancement. Metro rail and other public transit have been combined in industrialized countries to build an improved route system that enables passengers to pay for their travels with just one credit card. The metro rail system will help the country’s transportation network benefit from digitization and a gradual shift to a cashless economy.

Once the metro rail operates, the population density in Dhaka city would decline. People can easily commute to Dhaka for work while living in extremely affordable apartments outside of the city. Residents of Gazipur or Narayanganj, for instance, can get to the central city in under an hour if all routes are taken.

Any metro rail route has the potential for future growth. As a result, the entire transit network can be connected to neighboring cities. In addition, those who live in these areas can commute to work in the downtown area without moving there.

Dhaka has air pollution that is noticeably worse than other megacities. Dhaka has consistently topped lists of the world’s most polluted cities in recent years. The use of fossil fuels, which are used by every car on the roads of Dhaka, is the primary cause of environmental pollution.

As the metro rail system in Dhaka becomes “electrified” and can carry more people per hour, buses and other forms of transportation will become less common. Metro rail will benefit the ecology of the capital because fewer cars will be on the road as a result. Mass-spring system (MSS) technology will also be used on the metro rail to reduce noise, shock, and vibration. The environmental impact of metro rail will be reduced by this innovation.

Last but not least, it is safe to mention that the metro train project is the ideal one to upgrade Dhaka city from its present state to one that is modern and international.

Samina Akhter

Samina Akhter is a Dhaka, Bangladesh based activist, analyst, writer and columnist.

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