Direct bus services to Gangtok and Darjeeling from Dhaka via Siliguri was kicked off as a trial aiming to boost cross-border passenger services. Darjeeling via Siliguri is about a distance of 450km and the distance to Gangtok is about 500km from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
This trial-run was inaugurated by Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation Chairman Ehsan Elahi.
This initiative was birthed out of the continuous demand from a large number of holidaymakers who are seeking direct bus services to the two popular tourist destinations. Besides, many Bangladeshi parents send their children to boarding schools in Darjeeling, which makes this service even more a requisite to ease their journeys to the places.
Many local bus service providers were ready to operate commercially on the routes specified above if the authorities approve their request after the trial run. Many travel agencies also thought that this is a great initiative as they see this as an untapped sea of first-time travelers to this part of the world, significantly boosting the tourist inflow to both Darjeeling and Sikkim.
In November, India lifted a ban that restricted foreigners from entering Gangtok. The bus service therefore is on its way to becoming a great help to the visitors who are flooding to Sikkim now. However, heavy buses would not be able to operate on the narrow and zigzag roads between Siliguri and Darjeeling.
Currently, buses operate on five cross-border routes between Bangladesh and India -- Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka, Dhaka-Agartala-Dhaka, Dhaka-Sylhet-Shillong-Guwahati-Dhaka, Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata-Agartala and Dhaka-Khulna-Kolkata-Dhaka, besides the two new routes described above, that have now become active.