Thursday, July 14, 2016

Types of transportation in Bangladesh

By Irfan Aziz

Bangladesh is known for a lot of things. Its greenery, the Royal Bengal Tiger, the longest natural beach in the world and oh, its traffic; being the most densely populated country in the world it comes as no surprise. The big cities, especially, are notorious for traffic jams. Lucky for us, there are plenty of ways to get around in Bangladesh. Do keep in mind that some of these transports are exclusive to certain regions of Bangladesh. Without further ado let’s take a look at them:

The number 1 choice here in Bangladesh, the most popular form of transport. Although it was invented in Japan, Bangladesh made it popular. Paris is the city of Light; Dhaka is the city of rickshaws. With approximately 600,000 rickshaws running each day, Dhaka City is known as the Capital of Rickshaws. It is very convenient to travel short distances and even fairly long distances at times. Although one of the major contributors of traffic jam, rickshaws are also responsible for a fair
chunk of employment. In addition to that, they do not require any fuel, do not emit any harmful gasses, are very reasonable and energy efficient. Of course, we must not forget about rickshaw art. With each rickshaw having its own unique artwork done on their backsides, it just adds so many pretty colors to the cities. Still wondering why the rickshaw is the peoples’ champion of transports?

This is the cheapest way to travel within the city and cover long distances.  However, there are several classes. You have the “local” buses which are the cheapest and often feels like travelling in an oven every now and then.  Also, fair warning, it may break your heart when you find out that the term “sitting service” is quite often proven to be a myth.  If you are willing to spend a bit more though, there are services such as Falgun and Anabil which actually live up to expectations. Then there are companies that provide you with buses from brands such as Mercedes and Volvo although they can only be used to travel long distances. In short, buses are a really convenient way to travel.

Auto rickshaw/Baby taxis:
The happy little yellow automobile. Someone decided to give the rickshaw an engine and this is what we got. Banned in Dhaka, although some variations exist in the form of tempos, these are more popular in cities like Sylhet. Slightly more spacious than a rickshaw, the baby taxi is a great mode of travelling short distances in the city as they can make their way through any road regardless of how crowded or narrow they might be. In rural areas, however, baby taxis are the principal mode of covering long distances.

The baby taxi’s green cousin that runs on natural gas. CNGs have replaced baby taxis in Dhaka. They pretty much serve the same purpose as their yellow counterparts.
Fun fact: The green color symbolizes the fact that each vehicle is eco- friendly.

The ever popular Tuk-Tuk from Thailand is also used in some regions of Bangladesh, mainly Cox’s bazaar. The tuk-tuk is basically like a three-wheeled go-cart. Very much like in Thailand, this vehicle is extremely popular among tourists who enjoy the novelty. 

More common in the metropolitan areas of the country. Taxi is your go to mode of transportation if you want to travel in luxury. The quality of taxis have improved drastically over the years with companies like Toma Taxi bringing you state of the art vehicles in the form the more recent Toyota models.

Up until this point, we have been mostly talking about the smaller forms of transportation. Let us look at some of the comparatively larger means. 

Boats, Launches and Ferries:
Because of Bangladesh’s numerous water bodies, ferries and launches are useful ways to travel long distances. In rural areas, the use of boats is a very common sight to see. In popular tourist spots such as Cox’s bazaar, Jaflong in Sylhet and even the Sundarbans, boat rides are perceived as a novelty.

Established during the British period, the railway connects many districts of Bangladesh. It is not only used to travel from one city to another but also within a specific city. Much like buses, there are several classes of trains with local services offering cheaper rates.

Last but not least, we have the various airlines of Bangladesh who offer domestic flights. Certainly not the cheapest mean to travel, not by a long shot, but it is most definitely the quickest.

There is a wide variety of transportation systems Bangladesh-- they are a dime a dozen. Although some of these means are yet to live up to their full potentials, we have seen a drastic improvement over the last couple of decades.  Hopefully in the coming years, we will see more state of the art technology being implemented. Not on the rickshaws though, they are evergreen!

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