I am a traffic engineer, I want to share some of ideas, the following is taken from my MBA intern report. Responses from other readers are welcome.
Transportation in Dhaka City
Dhaka is a city of the population of 84 million (BBS 2001). In terms of population it is one of the biggest cities of the world. (As found in the URL http://www.citypopulation.de/World.html,
as on December 2003). From 1991 to 2001 the population increases by around 38%, but the area was same. The population density of the city is much higher than any city of USA. In fact, Dhaka is one of the leading cities in the world in terms of population density. The population density of Dhaka city is more than 50,000 per square miles where as, none of the major American cities have the population density of more than 25,000. New York being the highest (23,700/sq. mile)
Source: US census bureau: http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0027.html
In the last 100 years the national population has increased by 5 times whereas the population of Dhaka has increased by 30 times. (Zillur Rahman, the then Minister for Cooperatives and Local Government and Rural Development, www.prothom-alo.com, 10.01.2000 issue)
Roads and Transportation Modes of Dhaka
Greater Dhaka has a total road network of approximately 2230 km of which 25% are primary roads. The width of the roads varies from 6 to 40 m. The main roads are 15 to 25 m wide, newly built roads are 40 m wide while the roads in the older part of Dhaka are less than 6 m wide. Most of the major routes are stretched north south. The most popular traffic control mechanism in busy intersections is employing a traffic police. Two other ways are signals and roundabouts. Only 11% area is used for roads in Dhaka city.
Interurban transport is mainly conducted by surface road system. Train network is used primarily for intercity connection and waterways are used for inter district connections. The main mode of transportation in Dhaka city is rickshaw. There are nearly 90,000 officially licensed rickshaws in Dhaka, however the real number would be about 150,000-200,000. This generates employment for 300,000 to 400,000 people in the city. The other includes bus, minibuses, autorickshaws, autotempos, vans, taxies etc.
Growth of Motorized Vehicles in Dhaka city
Growth of vehicles in Dhaka city
Type of Transport 1971 1981 1988
Car / Motor 12205 22457 45100
Auto tempo - 454 1470
Bus 1531 3698 4860
Truck 2640 7657 10944
Auto Rickshaws 3843 6785 11066
Light Auto Rickshaw - - 800
Motorcycle 9644 28376 62539
Minibus 681 2398 7675
Jeep/vans 2804 6090 7311
Others 1110 2688 43485
Most of the residents in Dhaka cannot afford to pay for any type of transportation and travel mainly by foot. In another study done under the DUTP (Dhaka Urban Transportation Project) it was revealed that people who use any kind of transport in the city spend a pretty good share (nearly 33%) of the monthly expenditure for fares in transportation.
Transportation Problems of Dhaka City and Some Recommendations
The major roads of Dhaka city are mostly north south. So if there is congestion in any intersection the vehicles do not have other options to avoid the congested place. There is not much space left to build new roads. Another big physical traffic problem is the mix of transport modes: like rickshaw is a slow moving vehicle but there are other fast moving vehicles like bus, cars, vans etc. Rickshaw is not fuel consuming so it does not contribute to air pollution, but it makes the other vehicles on the same road move slowly and contribute to air pollution in an increasing fashion. This writer is not so far aware of any standard way of measuring the delay in links or intersections in Dhaka city. The standards discussed so far, are applicable for North American cities. The methodologies can be formulated and practiced for Dhaka city also. But in qualitative terms it can be said that the overall traffic congestion is quite bad.
There are two ways the traffic problem can be solved, long term and short term. The short-term solutions can take from few months to few years and the long-term solutions can take more than 10 years to implement. On the other hand, solutions can be classified as
-Engineering and operations related, and
-Planning, administrative and political.
The recommendations to combat the traffic congestions in Dhaka city includes but not limited to the following.
Formulation of some standards, procedures and methodologies related to transportations like Highway Capacity Manual in the USA. These standards should be practiced strictly so that any changes that can deteriorate the traffic situation to unacceptable conditions, can be stopped. For example, in USA no developer gets the permission to start the business if it causes the intersections to operate under unacceptable Level Of Service.
The excessive centralization in Bangladesh has cause a serious problem in Dhaka�s transportation conditions. The way population increased, the road network or vehicles did not increase in that way. So the scarcity of roads and vehicles are increasing day by day. If the administration, business and different facilities were decentralized to different other cities, people would move to those cities thus would improve the situation. It can be said without further study the urban facilities (road network, sewage system, housing etc) have never been designed for near ten million people within the area of 360 square kilometers. Even at present condition it is really hard to provide sufficient urban facilities for the existing population.
One of the major features of Dhaka�s transportation system is Rickshaws. Rickshaws are playing major role to transport goods and passengers from place to place. It is also many way responsible for bad traffic congestions. Rickshaw pulling is one of the major professions in this city. So they cannot be taken away from the city within a short time. But there are some modifications and restrictions needed for rickshaw. Rickshaws (and other nonmotorized vehicles) should not be allowed in major roads. The rickshaws need some changes in their structure to make it safer like addition of rearview mirror and helmets for both the pullers and the passengers. As the rickshaws run on roads the pullers should be aware of the traffic rules. Like the regular vehicles there should be a provision for some kind of license to pull the rickshaws.
The public transportation of Dhaka city is not in good shape. Auto-tempos, auto-rickshaws and minibuses were the major players as modes of motorized public transportation. But so far they have neither been successful, nor popular for this purpose. The success and popularity of �Premium� and �Nirapod� bus service show that people are willing to pay higher price for higher quality service. The big buses and double-decker buses can transport much more people than the modes like minibuses and tempos.
For faster service there should be some kind of mobility roads connecting different important points of the city like Mirpur, Motijheel, Mohammadpur, Malibagh, Gulistan, Uttara etc. There can be circular road around Dhaka that would connect those areas. The work trips in morning and evening can be made on this road. This road can be a high-speed facility (more than 55 km/hour) but strictly controlled access road. This road can be toll road for private cars. This concept does not have any supporting information in structural or right of way perspective.
There is no train service inside the Dhaka city. This is quite uncommon for a big city like Dhaka. These trains are very popular in different big cities including New York, London and Tokyo. Even many Indian cities have these trains. Train around and within the city can be a popular mode of Transportation.
The sidewalks (foot path) turned to a market place for venders have not been uncommon in Dhaka. That discourages the walking. The removal of venders from the sidewalks and their rehabilitations are strongly recommended.
The loading and unloading of buses sometimes make the vehicles behind the bus make it stop in at the road. This is especially true for single lane roads. The separate bay for bus stand can be a solution.
For road safety and better operation of the roads drivers and pedestrians need to be more aware and respectful of traffic rules. These laws should be written in easy language and with graphical presentation. These books should be given to people for no charge. These laws can be explained to people by public video demonstration. The violation of traffic rules should be addressed very seriously. The accidents would also be recorded and researched to analyze better.
Parking is another part of the transportation that has been neglected for long. Recently certain measures have been taken to provide good parking facility in different areas of the city. But the parking facility is still insufficient. Markets, malls, residential areas and office areas should have enough parking areas for private cars, taxies and rickshaws. Most of the times the parking design was performed without sufficient research. When the parking issue is discussed it should include all modes of transport including private cars, rickshaws and buses.
There should be more traffic signals and round abouts for better flow of traffic around different areas of the city. The traffic signals should be coordinated when they are closely spaced.
For any new development, that should be given permit only if it does not affect the nearby roads significantly. All the details of the development should be recorded in the local government with its details, like type of business, number of people working there, projection of how many customers would come to the business etc. For any deterioration of the nearby roads should be addressed and solved by the developers not the government. For example in last few decades, there have been a lot of garments industries and private Universities which probably could be better located outside Dhaka city. According to this proposal, they could only be given permission to open their business only after helping the city to solve the problems associated with the new traffics generated due to these developments.
The above recommendations are more like guidelines for solving or mitigating traffic congestion. For actual solutions and design basis there is a lot of scope or research in this area to find and formulate standards and guidelines.