I had a revealing experience with public transportation after a long gap. A Bumpa Transport Bus I took from Thimphu at 9.30 am on 21st October to Phuentsholing had a whole window missing in the front. The seat I was supposed to sit in behind the drivers seat had water all over it, for which I had find a cloth and wipe it down.
This was just the start as the young driver blasted songs in the bus throughout the journey at the decibel of a plane taking off, when irritated passengers were clearly trying to sleep.
The seats were all dirty and worn out and atleast I could feel the metal under the cushion. The windows were filthy and the floor caked with dirt. There was also no proper place to keep ones hand luggage.
I wondered if the exterior was so bad what the condition of the engine and breaks would be. The engine also did not sound all right to me. To top it up the driver took several long calls while driving with one hand.
It is ironical that the bus is parked right in front of the RSTA headquarters and the traffic police office is also nearby. Talk about monitoring, public safety and welfare.
In Bhutan public transportation is used by the poor and the middle class who constitute the masses, but this does not excuse such shoddy treatment. After all, people pay good money to travel on these rickety buses with bad service.
A lot of citizens have lost their lives and limbs over the years while using public transportation mainly due to driver error or engine and brake issues.
I think it is high time for the authorities and bus owners to buck up and improve both safety and service or be held accountable.
(The views below are in reaction to the above Facebook post on the Editor’s wall)
Editor, The Bhutanese
Safety is a big concern! Perhaps you forgot to check the tyres. It is mostly balled or one or two of the wheel nuts are missing.
My mother had once paid Nu. 1000 for a few sacks on her journey from Bumthang to Thimphu. She was so innocent that she paid the amount. My sister was asked Nu. 300 for only a sack of goods. She then defended saying that is her only luggage and that was what the bus fair was paid for. He then didn’t take even a penny. Sometimes, drivers play with the innocence of the people. At least, certain standards must be set.
This is just the tip of iceberg. If we travel regularly then whole thing can be seen. That’s probably one reason why import of private cars cannot be contained.
Just few weeks ago one of the public transport buses nearly killed my parents. The passengers said the driver wasn’t normal and the bus condition too.
Thinley Eto Wangdi
That is the pathetic condition of most of the public transportation system that ply on different routes. I am also worried how such buses pass the fitness test every year. I remember my 5 year old car being thoroughly checked during fitness renewal.
I’m amazed and disappointed by the failure of both the government and public in this. How come basic standards are not set and even if they are, not strictly monitored by the concerned authorities? How come none of the passengers of these buses ever bothered to bring it up before?
This is all happening because the bus is given to the driver on a monthly basis. The owner doesn’t give a damn to the things going on and the driver only thinks about the profit.
Nothing will happen, the authorities are all under owners. A long list of pre departure check list is issued to base in charge of RSTA but the form is signed inside the office and not by checking the bus.
This is a serious issue and needs to be addressed by the concerned authorities before lives are lost.
Thimphu to Phuntsholing is just about 5 hours journey. Imagine the hardships passengers bear traveling all the way to Trashigang, Trashiyagntze, Lhuntse and Mongar from Thimphu in buses with similar conditions. That too through road undergoing eastwest highway widening.