Non-motorized transport to decongest traffic

The Road Safety & Transport Authority (RSTA), with support from Thimphu Thromde, is working towards improving and upgrading non-motorised transport (NMT) and public transport to tackle growing traffic congestion in the main urban centres of the country.

According to RSTA the main streets of Thimphu that is Norzin Lam and Chang Lam face congestion particularly during peak office and school hours. In Phuentsholing, traffic congestion is on account of high volume of private modes of transport and taxi, which typically constitute approximately 60 per cent of all vehicles and freight vehicles (mini trucks and trucks).

“As the demand for movement by road increases, many sections of the network will become more overloaded and congested. Either additional roads space will be required, deteriorated roads will have to be rehabilitated or alternatively, the capacity of existing roadways will have to be utilized more efficiently. The priority mode of movement will be walk, Non Motorized Transport (NMT) and public transport,” RSTA officials said.

NMT is often a key element of successfully encouraging clean urban transport. It can be a very attractive mode of transport for relatively short distances. The key to reversing the trend towards more private vehicle use is making walking and cycling attractive, together with improving public transport. This can be done through a range of activities including construction of sidewalks and bike lanes, urban planning and pedestrian oriented developments.

The city bus service currently has insufficient capacity to meet ridership demand during peak hours thus forcing potential customers to use taxi or private modes of transit. Surveys conducted to gauge transport preferences and travel behaviors in Thimphu indicates that public buses involves long and irregular waiting times, slow speed and inconvenience and poor user experience. The city bus service does not have dedicated access points other than signages.  Further, the bus stop infrastructure lacks proper shelter, seating areas and bus parking bay.

RSTA officials said the bus service should be the main transportation in Bhutan like in many other countries. To make travelling in bus more convenient, RSTA shall try a system called Bus Information System (BIS) that can provide valuable bus information on how to travel and bus travel time approximation to passengers.

“RSTA shall also improve bus stop and bus stop shelters. Transportation efficiency can be improved by improving ticketing systems. Ticketing system has to be quick and practical to allow for prompt loading and unloading of passengers. We shall improve ticketing system too,” an official from RSTA said.

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