For the convenience of us all

In what will be a welcome change on the Thimhu-Babesa expressway, the Thimphu thromde will start designating pick up and drop off stands to ease traffic congestion.

This is one facility conspicuously missing on our roads, whether it is in small towns or the capital. Without such a facility, taxis abruptly stop on seeing a passenger, causing panic to the driver behind. Often, this leads to accidents. During rush hours especially, we can see drivers eye-balling at each other as they manoeuvre the little space on the double-lane expressway.

We cannot blame the taxi drivers or even others to screeching to a halt on the busy road. There are no designated places for passengers to wait for taxis. Passengers are taxi driver’s business and they wouldn’t want to miss them when competition is neck to neck.

The need for such space, also called loading zone, has been expressed since we started experiencing congestion on the expressway many years ago. But we waited for 100 penalised taxi drivers to approach authorities. That way, it appears that this was compelled to be made when100 taxi drivers, not necessarily for safety or smooth flow of traffic, called for a gathering feeling aggrieved when issued infringement notices last week.

The taxi drivers were right, of course. Where will they pick up passengers from? There are no loading zones. Taxi drivers are known for being reckless. This time, however, they should be credited for convincing authorities to bring an important change in our road safety system.

However, it is not clear if spaces will be created. It would be a sad affair if we just put up signboards along the roads. This will not really ease the congestion. What we need is extra space on the busy road at regular intervals. Taxis and buses at the stops should not disrupt the traffic. And then the taxi drivers will not complain if they are penalised for stopping at undesignated areas.

Going by traffic on our roads today, it demands some serious and honest solutions. More areas for school children to cross the road safely, overhead bridges and underground passes for convenience of both pedestrians and vehicles have become indispensable.

Our planners, well exposed and highly trained, should start looking into these crucial facilities in the fast-growing capital. Or, should we wait for death of 100 students or pedestrians to approach authorities?

We cannot stop the number of vehicles from growing. Even hefty taxes on vehicle import couldn’t do so. What we need to do is expand the infrastructure to keep up with the growth. And that includes efficient and cheap public transport services.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    If it’s a demand for ‘loading zones’ today, tomorrow we will need separate and dedicated lanes for taxis. But taxis do have a role play in the public transport service delivery as we move towards more urban development. But we still don’t have taxis circulating in different routes at regular intervals to make the loading zones a need and also more manageable ones. When some taxis are only circulating, a few will be picking and dropping passengers door to door. With taxis being the core of this public service delivery system, we need to start planning for professionally managing the circulation or movement of taxis on the business side before they become a traffic issue. So it’s good to see some 100 odd taxi drivers coming together as we need them to be organized and trained accordingly for better service delivery. Otherwise, even upgrading our traffic management system by government spending millions may not produce effective results if our transport service delivery is not professionally managed at the business end. Infrastructure development follows the need and requirements of the management of the service delivery system; which is taxis in this case.

    When a car moving in front stops, the one following has no other option but to respect those bright red lights flashing at the rear. Even the taxis can have a bright loading sign on top. It doesn’t create any safe space for loading, but keeps commuters around a bit more aware. One can always blow the horn to enquire ‘what’s the matter ahead’. Or we need the rear can windscreen to read out short crisp messages.

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