Dhaka’s new transit hub could cut commuting times in half

Sumaiya Nehla Saif, Dhaka Community Manager
Dhaka, 11 November 2015

A remarkably rapidly growing city, Dhaka holds the dreams and aspirations of many. As portrayed in many movies and films, people from all over the country come to this city in hope that they might make a living for themselves as well as their families back home. This makes the city center overpopulated as well as expensive. In order to combat this problem as well as to distribute commercial growth and stimulate economic exchange all over the city, including expansions at the outer city limits, the government, with funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, designed the Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development project, which is expected to move over 60,000 people per hour.

Dhaka is one of the largest cities with approximately 15 million people, but the road infrastructure has not been designed to be compatible with this high, and increasing, population. The traffic congestion in Dhaka city is estimated to cause an economic loss worth about 2 billion USD and rising. The Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project is proposed to combat this problem to help more than a half a million people as well as to commute considerable amount of goods by rail without having to fight through Dhaka traffic, which can be as low as two kilometers per hour of speed.

The project team, with the beginning stages almost done, are ambitious about the potential and scope of this system and expect it to be partially running by 2019, initially on a 10-kilometer stretch but covering a 20-kilometer one once it is fully running. Six spacious and air-conditioned coaches will be operating every four minutes, and a commuting time of about two hours is expected to be reduced to 40 minutes. A total of 24 trains are aimed to be running and transporting about 60,000 passengers every hour, picking up and dropping off passengers from 16 points both in and around the city center, enabling smooth transportation within city and outer limits of city. This is much needed because the biggest problem that stems out of extreme levels of traffic congestion in Dhaka is the increasing distance between outer and inner city

Many struggle for housing at the city center but at the same time, cannot afford it. This project helps connect the outer city population to the city hub without having to fight the expense of living there. The boundaries of Dhaka city are increasingly blurring and outer city limits are spawning zones of poverty and require attention.

The Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development project will not only combat traffic congestion but also provide an environmental-friendly mode of transportation. However, overseers need to be sure the budget is properly routed to complete the project and not lost in endless bureaucracy. Otherwise, if implemented successfully, it will prove to be considerably helpful in fostering communication between the city center and the outer limits and consequently contribute to further economic growth and expansion of development.

Photo: Asian Development Bank

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