MRT Pass vs Rapid Pass : Decoding Dhaka’s Digital Transit Cards [Detail Story]

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MRT Pass vs Rapid Pass! The inauguration of Dhaka’s first metro rail line, MRT Line-6, in December 2022 marked the beginning of a new era in the city’s public transportation system. Along with the metro service, two types of smartcards were introduced for fare payment – the MRT Pass and the Rapid Pass. While they seem quite similar at first glance, there are some key differences between these two passes.

MRT Pass vs Rapid Pass : Decoding Dhaka's Digital Transit Cards
MRT Pass vs Rapid Pass

What is MRT Pass?

The MRT Pass is a rechargeable smartcard specifically meant for travel on Dhaka’s metro rail network. It allows contactless fare payment when you tap the card on automated gates at metro stations. The MRT Pass comes in two varieties:

  • Single Journey Card: This disposable paper card can be purchased at metro stations and allows one-time travel between two stations.
  • Stored Value Card: This is a plastic rechargeable smartcard that can store a monetary balance for multiple metro trips. It offers a 10% discount on fares.

At present, the MRT Pass can only be used to travel on the MRT Line-6 between Uttara and Motijheel. More metro lines are under construction and will be integrated with the system in phases.

The card itself costs Tk 20 and then you need to recharge it with a minimum of Tk 100. The more you recharge, the more discount you get on fares, up to a maximum of 20%.

What is Rapid Pass?

The Rapid Pass is a common mobility card introduced by Dhaka Transportation Coordination Authority (DTCA) as part of its integrated public transit development plan. The goal is to ultimately integrate all major public transportation modes in Dhaka like metro, bus, and waterway services under one unified digital payment system.

As opposed to the metro-specific MRT Pass, the Rapid Pass is positioned as a universal transit card that can potentially be used across different transport mediums. It has also been designed to be interoperable with the MRT Pass system.

Features of Rapid Pass

Some key features of the Rapid Pass are:

  • Contactless fare payment: Wave the card across readers to deduct fares automatically
  • Store value: Recharge the card by adding a monetary balance to pay for future trips
  • 10% fare discount: Get a 10% discount on fares across all services
  • Interoperability: Can be used interchangeably with MRT Pass for metro travel

Current Usability

While the Rapid Pass is intended for unified transit payments across Dhaka, its usage is currently limited. At present, it can only be used for:

  • Rides on MRT Line-6 metro rail
  • Select BRTC bus services between Uttara, Abdullahpur, and Diabari

The card costs Tk 100 (including Tk 20 refundable deposit). The minimum recharge amount is Tk 30. Discounts apply on recharges over Tk 100.

Key Differences between the Passes

While MRT Pass and Rapid Pass currently work together on the metro system, there are some notable differences between the two transit cards:

Parameter MRT Pass Rapid Pass
Purpose Specific to metro rail Unified transit for metro, bus etc.
Issuer Dhaka Mass Transit Co. Ltd. Dhaka Transportation Coordination Authority
Applicability Only metro trains currently Metro & select bus services currently
Discounts Up to 20% on metro fares Fixed 10% on metro and bus fares
Purchase Points At metro rail stations DBBL Branches and booths near stations
Future Usage Limited to metro rail Can be used across transport mediums

To summarize, while the MRT Pass is a metro-exclusive travel card, the Rapid Pass has been introduced as a common mobility card for seamless public transit across Dhaka. The Rapid Pass can fully function as an MRT Pass for now, but provides scope for integrated payment beyond just metro trains.

Future Expansion Plans

The Dhaka Mass Transit Company has aggressive plans to expand the metro rail network to over 100km of track by 2030. Several new metro lines are under construction, including:

  • MRT Line 1: Airport Route
  • MRT Line 5: Hemayetpur to Bhatara
  • MRT Line 2: Gabtali to Kamlapur
  • MRT Ring Line

As new metro lines open, the MRT Pass will be valid on all trains. The Rapid Pass will also be enabled as a unified payment option.

Moving Towards Digital Fare Payments

Part of the impetus behind introducing transit smart cards is to gradually move to cashless, digital payments to improve efficiency. Tokens and paper tickets could eventually be phased out.

QR code payments may also be introduced at metro station gates. But cards help authorities cap fare subsidies for needy sections.

Data & Ridership Tracking

The smart card systems allow authorities to capture detailed ridership data to analyze commute patterns and passenger needs.

Features like daily capping or need-based subsidies can potentially be enabled. Travel histories can also help provide personalized notifications to commuters.

Supporting Feeder Systems

Integrating other mass transit like BRT buses, water taxis etc. with metro stations via unified Rapid Pass payments allows efficient last mile connectivity. Park-and-ride facilities supported by the Rapid Pass may also come up near suburban metro stations.

Frequently Asked Questions MRT Pass vs Rapid Pass

Here are some common queries people have regarding MRT Pass and Rapid Pass:

Which card should I get?

  • Get an MRT Pass if you only intend to use the metro rail system. It may offer slightly higher fare discounts.
  • Go for a Rapid Pass if you expect to also use it on buses or other transport services as they get integrated under it. It provides more flexibility.

Where are these cards accepted?

  • MRT Pass: Only accepted on MRT metro rail Line-6 between Uttara and Motijheel currently
  • Rapid Pass: Accepted on MRT Line-6 metro rail + Select BRTC bus routes between Uttara, Abdullahpur and Diabari only at present

Can I use Rapid Pass on all Dhaka buses?

No, as of now the Rapid Pass only works on the feeder BRTC bus service between the three locations mentioned above. It is not valid for regular bus services yet. Integrations are underway.

Will the Rapid Pass work on rideshare services?

Not at the moment. Currently, the scope of Rapid Pass is limited to public transport like metro rail and buses operated by government agencies. Rideshare integration is planned further down the road.

Which pass offers higher fare discounts?

  • The MRT Pass offers marginally higher fare discounts on metro services of up to 20% based on recharge amount.
  • The Rapid Pass provides a flat 10% fare discount on metro and supported bus services, irrespective of recharge amount.

What is the validity & expiry?

Both MRT Pass and Rapid Pass are rechargeable smart cards with an unlimited validity period. The cards do not expire, but unused monetary balances expire after 1 year from last recharge.

Can I get a refund on remaining balances?

Yes, you can get a refund on unused funds in the card by visiting the customer service centers at metro stations or DBBL branches that issue the Rapid Pass. Applicable transaction fees may apply.

So in summary, while the MRT Pass is a dedicated payment card for Dhaka’s metro rail network, the Rapid Pass has grander ambitions to ultimately serve as a common mobility solution across all major public transport mediums within the mega city.