Public Transportation in Dhaka, Bangladesh

This post explains Dhaka's public transport system as I could experience during my short 3 days visit to Bangladesh. I didn't avail any taxi service- explored the capital on foot, bus and train. This post is written to help you plan your movements in Dhaka should you wish to explore using public transportation.

Buses
Buses are very popular means of getting around in Dhaka. There are both private and govt buses, including the double decker buses. I took a bus from airport to city-but the distance of about 20 kms took almost 3 hours due to congestion and traffic, plus no one gives space for bigger vehicles- bikers, autos squeeze in from all corners. A smaller bus would have probably taken less time.

Fare: I was charged some 35 Takas for the distance of 15-20 kms from airport till Motizheel area. (INR 30/USD 0.5) No ticket was issued.

How to locate right bus? This will be difficult part. I boarded a random double decker bus at the airport, towards the direction of city- my plan was to just enjoy the double decker ride and see the town even if it doesn't go where I wanted to go- luckily it went close to Motizheel area where my hotel was- had to walk last 1.5 kms but that was fine.

Best approach would be to mention the locality name to conductor and board if he nods. Bus details are not available on Google maps. Track the movement on the map and get down when you get reasonably close to your destination or when you feel bus is beginning to go away.

Expect lots of crowd in the bus. I didn't see any AC buses- all are non AC only and most of the buses are very old and battered.

Taxis
Taxis are available in Dhaka but not in large number. I couldn't spot them on the street. But Taxis will be available in major train stations, airports and other places. You can avail one from here, or ask your hotel to arrange one. There is no Grab or other app based taxi service as per my knowledge.

Autos
Autos or Tuk Tuk are more common and can be hailed on the street. Language will be a barrier to communicate your destination and negotiate fare. Unlike Autos in India which are open, I could see a mesh door fixed to all autos in Dhaka-probably to prevent theft or misuse.
Cycle Rickshaws 
These human powered vehicles are used extensively by locals for last mile connectivity. Can seat 2 people and few bags, powered by the puller. I saw a few battery powered ones as well.
Share Autos
Shared transport vehicles ply on various fixed routes, can be seen in street corners with drivers shouting the destination they are headed to.
Train
Trains in Dhaka are a very good option, if it is serving the route you need to take. On my way back, I took train to Airport from Kamalanagar train station. Ticket cost was 45 Taka, bit more than the bus. I boarded train at 9.30 AM but train left almost an hour late- by 10.20 AM. But once it started moving, it reached airport train station in about 20 minutes- so it is a very good option.


Trains are available to Kolkata, Chittagong and other far away places- probably the best way to travel, even tough not very luxurious. AC buses are also available for long distance travel.

Boats
Makeshift boats ferry passengers across the river.
Metro
Metrolines were under construction in Dhaka when I visited. Probably in another 2-3 years they should be operational.

Information Display
Information display is poor to non-existent. Even in Railway station there were no displays indicating which train in what platform goes to where. You've to ask some people to get right information.

Ride Sharing app
Sathya Narayan told me about this app https://pathao.com which is a ride sharing app currently operational in Bangladesh. You might want to check.

Rental car:
Dhaka Airport had a Europcar counter- if you're keen to try self drive you probably can. But be advised road sense is very poor in Bangladesh, people drive erratically. Except some main roads, most roads are crowded, narrow and dirty/filthy. Finding parking for your car or driving safely will be a challenge, particularly when you don't know local language or don't have anyone to assist you.

Tour operators:
I didn't see any travel agencies/tour operators advertising city tours or day trips from Dhaka. Travel shops do exist- they mostly sell air tickets etc. But you can try walking into one and ask for a cab or any travel related service- they might be able to help.

Similar: Managing Srilanka trip with public transport * Exploring Manipur using public transport *

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