Yangyel Lhaden

The City Bus Services (CBS) team and police are on strict surveillance every night to ensure safety for late-night commuters who travel in city buses.

The bus drivers said that they constantly monitor passenger safety and behaviour through the rearview mirror. Late-night bus services occasionally have drunkards and drug addicts onboard. If passengers are found to be under the influence, the drivers ask them to disembark. While most comply politely, some react aggressively, the bus drivers said.

Although not many crime cases are reported during the late-night bus service, there have been a few incidences where drivers were charged, and the passengers committed crime while availing CBS transportation at night. 

About two weeks ago, CBS driver Ugyen Druptho was attacked by seven boys who ran away from a rehabilitation centre. At around 1:00 am, they boarded the bus from Olakha and refused to leave at the Royal Thimphu College terminal. They claimed they wanted to go to town and got off from the CBS office. One boy approached the driver, and threatened him whether he wanted bus fare or “something else”. 

There was one other passenger on the bus who offered to pay their fare, but he had enough money only for one person. Concerned about the situation, Ugyen pressed the bus door button and got off. He was then surrounded by the boys, but CBS staff came to his rescue, causing the boys to flee. The driver and his colleague caught one boy, who was later arrested when Ugyen called the police. The parents paid the bus fare the next day and the police returned the boys to the rehabilitation centre.

About three months ago, a drunk passenger broke a front view mirror during late-night service. 

Director of CBS Pasang Tshering said, “ We have appointed security personnel among ourselves and two are on duty every night to take care of safety issues.” 

He said that late-night bus services were mostly opted by women who worked in late-night establishments such as karaoke and who worked as sale girls. “ While there haven’t been cases of sexual harassment or eve-teasing on the buses, we still ensure vigilant monitoring as a precautionary measure.”

CBS management has been requesting Royal Bhutan Police for dedicated police personnel at the city bus terminal in town. Passang Tshering stated that without dedicated police personnel at the terminal, the police often left when cases occurred in other locations.

The Superintendent of Thimphu police station Colonel Namgay said that there is a patrolling team in Thimphu which also covers the CBS terminal in town regularly. As per the understanding between him and CBS management, the patrol team would be stationed at the CBS terminal after the last fleet. If there are any secondary issues, the concerned bus driver or staff can contact him directly or use the hotline number provided.

Colonel Namgay said that police personnel at the CBS terminal might leave for cases in other areas, but drivers could call for a prompt response. “ Safety issues with city bus passengers is my top priority.”

To improve surveillance, CBS management will install new software by next month. This software will allow drivers to alert the office by pressing a panic button on the buses when there is a problem.

CBS started late-night services from April  4, last year till 10:30pm which was extended to 12:30am from October 26.