BUSES OF BANGLADESH


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Many thanks to Dave Spencer who kindly sent me this report with the splendid photographs taken in Bangladesh during 2007 and 2015. It's a pleasure to add it to the website's "world buses" collection.

Last updated 31 December 2016

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Dave writes "I originally went on a tentative trip to Dhaka in 2007 only having seen pictures of their Ashok Leyland double deckers on the internet. It was during the peaceful period of military rule which, whilst not very PC, did provide a calmer environment."

BRTC Ashok Leyland Titan in Dhaka 2007.

"The mix of vehicle types and liveries wouldn't be repeated in 2015. The BRTC (Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation) ran the poorest looking, most thrashed-out buses in 2007 and getting pictures of a whole bus free from traffic at the Dhaka city termini was very difficult."

BRTC Ashok Leyland Titan in Dhaka 2007.

"The Volvos (see below) were running a semi express service, although a better description was 'being run into the ground'. Photography is easy - harder not to take them really."

BRTC Volvo B10M with Alexander bodywork in 2007. They seat 119 plus 40 standing.

BRTC Volvo B10M with Alexander bodywork in 2007. 50 were acquired from Sweden in 2003.

BRTC Ashok Leyland Titan in Dhaka 2007. Dave cannot explain why this one was blue!

"When we visited again in 2015 it was amidst civil strife, with the opposition party having opted out of the elections in 2014, now creating havoc with regular fire bombings of transport. This imposed a theoretical nationwide blockade, backed up with enforced strikes every working day."

"Despite all this we were still made very welcome by drivers, soldiers and police. We'd almost decided an emergency alternative Indian itinerary, as we had visas to go and visit Kolkata yet again. Thankfully we went ahead as scheduled and the welcome was even warmer as we had obviously not been put off by terrorism."

"In Dhaka there is a second operator of double deckers (all ex BRTC), University Bus - see below. They operate from a rather splendid campus out of the centre providing feeders for students, teaching staff and anyone else who wants to hop aboard. By the time we'd gained this knowledge we only had a Saturday left to find them; sod's law it was their 'off' day. In Bangladesh nearly all transport has an 'off' day, each rail route for example, a chance to catch up on the schedule which after six days would be hopelessly up the creek."

Half cab 'University Bus' Ashok Leyland Titan in Dhaka 2015.

"Our next adventure was a trip by rail to Chittagong (infamous for its ship-dismantling, using child labour) to see if the double deckers were working. The rail journey was delayed 6 hours - the previous day's train had been derailed by terrorist activity. If I'd have just waited half an hour I would have thought there was nothing to be seen, then (as buses do) three deckers turned up at once."

BRTC Ashok Leyland Titan in Chittagong 2015.

"Almost all the latest Ashok Leylands have been received in the last two years, although there was a similar batch of 50 delivered around 2012-13."

Half cab Ashok Leylands in Chittagong 2015.

"Very few half cabs survive, but we found some wrecked or rotted examples at the depot. We had tea with the manager of the local depot. Quizzed by a ticket-collecting companion he had no idea whether they issued tickets on their buses. I wonder what he thought the conductors did with the fares! It's all subsidised by the government so not his concern."

"There were about 15 half cabs in service in Chittagong but most people were too scared to ride them as they were an obvious first choice of fire bombers, thus many were parked up at the roadside in a 'Let's pretend we are working' situation. We took the famous Rocket river paddle steamer service which (with a car ride to cover the silted-up section) gets you to Khulna, the third city and like most of the main towns it had been issued with Ashok Leyland Double Deckers from the vast order for over two hundred plus some artics or 'vestibules' as they are called locally (see below)."

Dhaka's first articulated buses were 50 Ashok Leylands imported from India in 2013, with seating for 58 and a total capacity of 130.

"The BRTC double deckers in Khulna finished in November 2014 - threats from the mafia saw passengers and crews beaten up, it was all seen as a government ploy against the private bus owners. The enforced strikes or 'Hartals' happen quite frequently and the rate of attrition due to violent attacks, neglect, lack of servicing, lack of parts, lack of money etc will probably mean that, like the Volvos, the country will be paying off the Indian finance package many years after their demise."

Ashok Leyland school bus, with a Hino single decker behind. Near the Indian border 2015.

"As we approached the Indian border we made the amazing discovery of a mint yellow school bus version of the new deckers. Alas time didn't allow us to linger but it was the smartest and only presentable double deck bus we saw."

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Thanks very much to Dave for the photos and the background information. A most unusual collection of images, and a great addition to the Classic Buses Website international section.


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