High demand and breakdowns push demand for Buses

Bhutan Post puts up proposal for 18 more buses

Bhutan’s Post’s City bus services are facing a paradox of increasing demand and usage by commuters but also an unusually high number of breakdown of its mainly Chinese Golden buses which consist of the bulk of the City Bus fleet.

At various times the Olakha workshop can see the buses undergoing frequent repair after breakdowns as well as cases of the Chinese buses being stranded in their parking areas.

Some of the workshop staff said that the Chinese buses are less familiar to them than the regular Japanese and Indian buses they are used to and it is also more difficult to get parts.

As a result very frequently the City Bus service does not operate at full strength.

At the same time in a city known for high cost of living the bus system has gained popularity for providing low cost transport.

Dorji Wangchuk, a public relations officer with the Bhutan Post said a proposal has been put up a few months ago for around 18 more buses. Ten will be used within Thimphu and the rest eight will be deployed in Phuntsholing.

The commuters mostly consist of students and office goers. 25 year old Reshma who is currently interning in a private office said that waiting for the bus after office is the most difficult time for her as she has to rush with school children which she fails most of the time. “I always have to manage to go by taxi though it’s very expensive for me”.

Another commuter, Tandin Bidha a student of Lungtenzampa Middle secondary school said “I have to wait for a bus every day for at least an hour or two since I can’t afford to go by taxi and so I get limited time to study and do homework because it would already be 7 pm or 7:30 pm by the time I reach home” she said.

Even with the conductors and enumerators, the difficulties faced are similar despite their task being eased with the introduction of e-ticket.

Kezang, a 32 year old city bus driver said, “Before we used to take more number of passengers out of sympathy because I know how difficult it is for low income people, but now as the rule is strict, it becomes risky for us because we have to pay a Nu.1500 fine for carrying excess people”. “But on other side, the job of conductor are made much easy” he added.

Dorji Wangchuk, the problem in managing the number of commuter with the scarcity of buses is not a new issue. He said, “The people should understand and these are the expected issues”.

On breakdowns he said “Sometimes there are many breakdowns which happens at a time making it difficult for the commuters as well as for the management” he said.

To address the problem of commuters having to wait for longer duration of time for the city buses, the new method where the bus has to take the route either by clock-wise or an anti-clock wise direction has been put in action about a month ago.

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