The slash in petrol and diesel prices earlier this month due to the non levying of excise, which the government decided to transfer to people, has led to some taxis saying the drop is too steep while passengers argued the opposite especially for bus fares.
The revised fare for taxi is down by Nu 2 a kilometre (km) within a district and Nu 1 a km outside a district. For Coaster passenger buses, ticket prices have decreased by Nu 0.13 a km a person. That means fares from Thimphu to Phuentsholing has reduced by around Nu 23.
The Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) worked out the revised rates following the drop in fuel price.
Some commuters are appalled that the bus fares have barely reduced considering the fuel price went down by historic proportions. A resident from Olakha, Thimphu, Vishal Gurung said, “When the fuel price dropped by Nu 10.29 a litre for petrol and Nu 7.75 a litre for diesel, we were very happy that bus and taxi fare would also decrease substantially but all RSTA could do is cut the bus fare rate by Nu 0.13 a km.” A few other commuters that the reporter talked to had similar views as they expected bigger cuts in the rates.
On the other hand taxi drivers are unhappy with the reduction in taxi fares. A taxi driver said, “This is not the first time fuel price has decreased but this is the first time the taxi and bus fare has come down following the reduction in fuel price.”
“What really made us unhappy is that RSTA didn’t even bother to discuss with us because we have been operating taxis for more than 20-30 years and we know that the reduction in fuel cost is not the only determinant for revision, there are other factors such as the maintenance cost and salary of the drivers. We really want to know how the revision was done.”
The Director General of RSTA Pemba Wangchuk clarified, “We considered the cost of fuel in revising the fare for taxi and buses since fuel cost is one of the major factors. But at the same time, there are other variables we took into consideration like the operating cost”.
Karma Pemba from RSTA said operating cost comprises capital expenses, fixed cost and variable cost. Capital expenses include cost of and lifespan of buses; registration and renewal fees, trade license fees, insurance and administrative cost comes under fixed cost and maintenance cost is variable cost. “Every six months, bus operators are required to submit the assessment,” he said.
According to bus operators though the RSTA collects the assessment every six months, they submit the assessment annually because of the limited time.
However, outside the ambit of the RSTA are the truck drivers who haul goods within Bhutan.
The drivers are also expected to start dropping transportation costs failing which government agencies may see what can be done to bring them down.