Despite the revision of bus and taxi fare on the new Damchu-Chukha route, which came in to effect from July 25, some buses and taxis are still charging the old rate, according to Road Safety and Transport Authority, RSTA.
With the completion of 19.2 km Damchu-Chukha bypass road, RSTA revised the fare for buses and taxi but many passengers travelling from Thimphu to Phuentsholing are paying the same rate of Nu 221 for coaster bus and Nu 684 for taxi per passenger.
RSTA officials and traffic police in Chukha, Tshimasham found that 6 buses were charging the old rate of Nu 221. A RSTA official said, “According to the Road Safety and Transport Rules and Regulations 2018, the driver or the owner of the bus shall not charge fare in excess of what has been fixed by the authority. A fine of Nu 1000 per person is imposed for charging of excess fare, in addition to the refund of excess fare collected.”
He said, “There was a total of 103 passengers in 6 buses and the bus operators were asked to refund the excess amount collected that is Nu 26 per person. RSTA issued Transport Infringement Notice (TIN) and seized their licenses which shall be returned after payment of fine.”
The official said, “The bus operators wrote a letter to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MOIC) to waive off the fine because firstly most of them were not aware of the revision and most passengers had booked their ticket prior to the revision. MOIC waived off the fine, but here after, if bus or taxi is found to be charging excess fare, a fine shall be imposed as per RSTA Rules and Regulation 2018.”
Sonam Pem, 28, a passenger was charged Nu 221 from Phuentsholing to Thimphu on 26 July. She said, “I knew that the fare for bus and taxi shall be revised, but I was not sure whether RSTA has revised the fare or not. Later upon confirming with RSTA, my friend lodged a complaint with Phuentsholing RSTA and was told that they will refund the amount.”
Yeshey Wangchuk, a student from Wangbama Central School said, “Bus and taxi drivers impose higher fares for those without ticket. I was charged Nu 221 from Thimphu to Phuentsholing.”
RSTA said, “We are inspecting every bus at the terminal before they depart. We are also checking ticket counters to make sure that people at counter are charging the rate we fixed. For taxi, it is difficult because we don’t have a terminal, and we cannot go after every taxi to see taxi drivers are not charging its passenger higher than what is fixed by the authority.”
He said, “We are also doing highway inspection for both bus and taxi and those charging a higher rate shall be penalized.”
Chukha RSTA said, “Approximately 3 km of road between Chukha Dam and Chukha Zero Point is blocked due to landslide and falling of boulders. In such situations, the road remains closed for 2-3 days and RSTA will divert the traffic towards Tshimasham and from Tshimasham they can travel back to the new route via the old Dzong.”
RSTA official said, “With the completion of new Damchu route, the distance has reduced by 19.2 km but due to constant road blockage from falling boulders, we would like to inform public to drive cautiously to avoid accidents.”