The doors of the much-awaited metro rail finally opened to the public on Thursday, a day after the first-ever elevated rail service was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) Managing Director MAN Siddique said they started operations from Uttara around 8am and the same train after reaching Agargaon station started the return trip.
A huge number of people were seen standing in queues amid chilly weather both at Uttara and Agargaon stations since morning to get on the first-ever electricity-powered metro rail.
As the authorities have started the operations on a limited scale, passengers can avail of the service for four hours between 8am and 12 noon.
However, the authorities said they will review the first day’s service to decide on increasing the duration of operations. They were also struggling to maintain the 10-minute interval period as commuters were taking time to purchase tickets since it is a new system for them.
Visiting the Agargaon station, The Business Post correspondent found that five vending machines, out of six, were out of order while the staff at the station were helping commuters collect tickets from another machine.
Bangladesh is the third country in the South Asian region to have metro rail after India and Pakistan.
In the first phase, a limited number of trains carrying fewer passengers will operate for a short period, and the speed will be slower than usual for three months, as a period to get accustomed.
In the beginning, the train will not stop at all stations. The stopping of trains at intermediate stations will start later. Initially, the train will carry 200 to 250 passengers and later 700 to 800 passengers.
Of the 12 trains that have been kept ready for operating from Uttara to Agargaon, 10 will run regularly and two will be kept on standby for any problem.
Ticketing system and fare
There are two systems for ticketing — automated and manual — for passengers who want to travel by metro rail in the capital.
In the automated system, passengers can get their tickets by themselves, but one passenger will be allowed to get a maximum of five tickets at a time.
Besides, those who find the automated system confusing can get their tickets manually following the traditional system of buying tickets from the counter paying cash.
All passengers will have to enter through the gate using a smart pass card after getting a ticket and will be able to use escalators to go to the platform on the third floor.
The minimum fare for metro rail was fixed at Tk 20 and the maximum fare for travelling from Uttara to Motijheel at Tk 100.
In the first phase, the fare from Uttara station to Agargaon station will be Tk 60. The fare from Uttara (North) to Uttara (Central) and Uttara (South) Station will be Tk 20.
Besides, from the first station Uttara North to Pallabi and Mirpur-11 stations, the fare will be Tk 30, the fare till Mirpur 10 and Kazipara stations will be Tk 40 and till Shewrapara station it will be Tk 50.
According to the DMTCL, the rail operations to Motijheel may start by the end of 2024, and Kamalapur by 2025.
The DMTCL has been implementing the MRT Line-6 project, popularly known as the metro rail, since 2012.
A loan agreement in this regard was signed with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a Japanese development cooperation agency, the following year.
The main construction work of the project started in 2017.