At a time when our transport system is facing increasing internal and external challenges, meeting of stakeholders for transport coordination comes as good news.
The committee that the coordination will give birth to will have to explore ways to improve the existing and emerging transport issues in the country. It is a heavy mandate. Foot-dragging or drawing back from this all-important charge could have serious consequences – both short-term and long-term.
It is not enough that we have a transport system in place; it should be eminently networked, highly efficient and sustainable. It is all the more important for Bhutan to achieve sustainable transport development because of the challenges of growing vehicle number and limited parking spaces. Our transport planning must, therefore, aim to achieve greater access, while reducing environmental and social impacts at the same time.
For this to happen, there should be transport policy and planning that is well-coordinated. As yet, however, components of our transport sector are scattered all over the places. Fragmented responsibilities among ministries and offices come in the way of developing long-term transport vision of the country.
Urban centres in the country are increasingly facing challenges of traffic congestion and other allied problems. And road transport is also a major contributor to local air pollution and smog. The majority of carbon dioxide emissions, more than 90 percent, come from direct burning of fossil fuels. Because of growing number of cars, greenhouse gas emissions from transport will only increase.
It is high time we thought about alternative transport modes that not only improves mobility but also reduces impact on environment. Our modes of transport and systems of transport planning should be consistent with wider concerns of sustainability. Also, from the perspective of urban mobility, public transport is by far more efficient than personal motor vehicles. It uses less road space and consumes less energy.
It is vitally important that we have one common transport policy, one legal instrument to govern the sector and one master plan for effective planning and development. Unless this happens, transport development will not happen.
A good public transport system that is easy and convenient, fast, safe, clean and affordable will solve much of the transport problems we face today.