The first day of the sale of advance bus tickets for Eid holidays went rather quiet yesterday with many apparently opting for rail, waterways, and air, fearing traffic would be terrible on the highways.
Karimul Islam has been celebrating Eid with his family in Naogaon for the last 12 years and each time he had a tough battle to get bus tickets — waiting in long queues, haggling with bus operators — and then there was the long arduous journey home.
But the resident of the capital’s Badda found a different situation yesterday whilst getting tickets for this Eid. There was no crowd when he went to buy the tickets around 11:00am in Gabtoli.
Advance bus tickets for June 8-16 were on sale yesterday.
“In the past 12-13 years, I have never seen the counters with so few people queuing on the opening day of the advance ticket sale,” said Karimul.
“I think people are not willing to travel by bus this year due to the poor condition of roads which causes traffic jams and huge delays,” he said.
“Two months ago, I travelled to my hometown in Nazipur of Naogaon. The journey took around 14 hours instead of the usual seven-eight hours due to the poor road condition,” said Karimul.
Perhaps this was why holidaymakers were leaning towards rail, waterways and air this Eid, he added.
This opinion was not his alone.
The Daily Star correspondent talked to several ticket buyers of various destinations and people at ticket counters of bus service providers in Gabtoli and Kalyanpur. All of them had the same opinion.
Ticket sale was half of last year’s, operators said, adding that most of them sold only 25-30 percent of the total tickets available until noon. There was little crowd in the morning but that disappeared after 9:00am.
Ticket sellers and buyers blamed the poor condition of the roads.
Some opined that yesterday was a working day and many had not gotten their salaries, being the 30th of the month, and bonuses. That’s why some people could not buy tickets.
However, a number of passengers, including Karimul, refuted this saying money was never an issue in the past.
Hanif Paribahan’s salesperson Monwar Hossain in Gabtoli’s Balurmath area said, “We could sell only 30 percent of the advance tickets until 12:00pm. We sold twice as much last year in the same time.”
Train’s advance tickets for June 11-15 will be sold from tomorrow. However, there was a big crowd at Kamalapur Railway Station trying to get tickets for June 10 or earlier.
Mahbub Prodhan of Shyamoli Paribahan in Kalyanpur said they also sold fewer tickets than previous years.
Ramesh Chandra Ghosh, managing director of Shyamoli Paribahan, told the newspaper that they were not selling tickets for all their buses considering the poor road condition. “If we find the road situation to be good, we will sell tickets of those buses later on,” he added.
The authorities of a few bus operators said people nowadays buy tickets online which could be a reason for fewer people queuing at counters.
A number of ticket buyers yesterday alleged that the bus operators were selling advance tickets at Tk 30 to Tk 120 more than the regular fare.
“I had to buy a ticket for Joypurhat for June 12 for Tk 520 from Hanif Paribahan but the regular price is Tk 400,” said Aminul Islam.
Hanif Paribahan General Manager Mosharref Hossain said, “We are selling at the price fixed by Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA).” He claimed that they used to take less than the fixed fare before.
Bangladesh Passengers’ Welfare Association fears Eid holidaymakers will face the same sufferings like in the previous years as the roads, railways and waterways are still not ready to tackle such a huge rush.
Around 50 million people would make around 150 million trips inside the country in six days before and after the Eid, it estimated.
Only 44,374 buses, 27,962 mini-buses, 4,221 launches, 92 inter-city trains, 73 local trains, and 14 special trains would be in service, it added.
The association yesterday arranged a discussion on “Sufferings during Eid Journey” with experts and transport leaders at the Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.
It said the country’s 40 percent roads were in a deplorable condition. Home-goers’ sufferings might be prolonged due to long tailbacks, road accidents, reckless driving, and speeding of buses to keep trip schedule.
Holidaymakers on waterways and railways might have to suffer due to insufficient vessels and carriages.
In a keynote paper, it said people on Dhaka-Chittagong highway might get stuck at the bridges on the Meghna, Gumti and Shitalakkhya rivers.
A stretch of Dhaka-Sylhet highway has narrowed down due to construction of a flyover between Gausia and Bhulta at Rupganj in Narayanganj.
Illegal parking, roadside establishments and development work could cause people to suffer on Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Tangail highways. There could be tailbacks on Dhaka-Mawa and Dhaka-Aricha highways caused by development activities and insufficient number of ferries.
During this Eid, 1.15 crore people are expected to leave Dhaka and 3.85 crore people would travel from one district to another, it said.