Mahfuzul Haque talks to a group of people whose common interest is buses
Now the title may intrigue some people, it may bring a conniving smile on the faces of others.
We have heard of or met nature lovers, cricket lovers or movie lovers. But who are ‘bus lovers’? This is a group on Facebook with around 5,000 members from Bangladesh. They are bound together by one aspect only: their love for buses.
It may sound strange. And you may ask what kind of activities can be done for buses which are usually public transports rather than cars.
Well, the group is all about bus spotting; providing analysis on the kind of service provided by different models of buses; video clips depicting how certain bus services are ran and more.
Also, each member of the group is like a ‘living encyclopedia’, meaning they know almost every detail regarding bus services in Bangladesh.
Prompt interactivity is one of the fascinating facets of the group. The members not only provide quick replies to queries but also spot buses wherever they find and upload its photos with interesting captions.
Ahmed Al-Amin required travelling from Dhaka to Jessore on June 9. But he was not sure about AC bus service on the route. He posted a query on the Bus Lover page and within a minute Rakibul Haque Parag, a member in the group, provided a quick solution that a bus of Eagle Pariban will start at 4.30 in the evening.
Another bus of AK Travels will go for Jessore at 9.25 this night, replied Niaz Rahman Shovon, another member of the group. Besides providing the information, Shovon also uploaded a screenshot of the seat plan of that trip pointing out the availability of seat.
Now you know why the group is so popular.
The group was formed in Facebook in 2011. Initially in January 2011, a group of 35 people, who have been fans of buses since their childhood formed a group for ‘Baghdad Travels’. The Mercedes Benz coaches of the service plied between Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar. In the page, the members posted pictures of the buses and their daily schedules.
‘Later in June, 2011 we added other bus services operating in Bangladesh. We then changed the name of the group to Bus Lover,’ recalls Tarikul Islam Shuvo, a founding member of the group. He shares that as a child, he used to count buses while sitting by the road near his grandfather’s house in Faridpur.
Along with Shuvo, other founding members include Shahriar Akash, Sohan, Sani and Imran Hossain; all with their own unique story of love for buses.
At the end of 2011, the number of members in the group rose to a thousand. By the beginning of 2012, the group also opened a page by the same name on Facebook where anyone can participate after liking the page.
Now, the Bus Lover group has around 4,700 members and the Bus Lover page has around 6,300 followers.
‘We have active members in all 64 districts of Bangladesh and they constantly provide updates of services on every route inside the country,’ Shuvo says. A passenger from Barisal may want to know about bus services that ply between Barisal and Rajshahi. The admin if unaware about the service on the route, tags the members from Barisal and Rajshahi immediately. Then they provide prompt response, shares Shuvo.
The group members do not confine their activities only within providing updates rather they extend help to other members. For example, a member may find a destination new and if he seeks help from members of that particular area, some of them will definitely come and extend help as much as possible, says Hasib Shikder, a member of the group. ‘The group is like a family, we all do our bit,’ Shikder adds.
The members of the group are regular travelers in order to evaluate the quality of different buses, the transport services and so on. ‘While any member of our group travels on a bus, he takes pictures of the bus, its seats and interiors and posts it on the group page,’ Shuvo says.
The group members are so active that you will find two to three updates every five minutes as members are always updating the latest information and uploading pictures of buses with interesting descriptions.
Owners and officials of many bus companies such as Green Line, Shohag, Eagle, SB Super Deluxe, Desh Travels are also members of the group. ‘Seeing our activity on the page they became members of the group and seek suggestions from us regularly about improving their service quality,’ Shuvo shares.
During the last monsoon, Shuvo along with some of his friends travelled from Cox’s Bazar to Dhaka. On the way rain water poured into the bus. Shuvo posted it on the group’s page. After they reached Chittagong, the company arranged another bus for the rest of the trip.
‘When we asked why they changed the bus, the counter manager said that the owner phoned him after seeing the post in the Bus Lover group,’ Shuvo narrates. The owner also thanked Bus Lover for giving them feedback.
There are some members in the group who also design body, front, paint and interior for buses. The bus company Eagle Paribahan now takes designs for all their buses from the Bus Lover group.
A Rahman Shimz, an A level student and also a member of the group, has designed front, body and interior for Navana’s RM2 coach that is going to be inaugurated during the next Eid-ul-Fitr.
SKS Coachbuilder, a Malaysian automotive company has also taken design for their buses from John, another member of the group.
‘We do not charge any money for our designs because it is our hobby,’ Shuvo says.
Besides travelling regularly, the members of the group regularly visit the garages in Dhaka during the weekends to know about the latest additions to buses in the city. They usually post this on the group’s page.
The group members also arrange various tours throughout the year.
The group also has members from the US, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Malaysia. Members from these countries post the latest editions of buses in the group’s page.
‘We always welcome more bus lovers in our group,’ Shuvo says.
Bus Lover group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/buslover/