Improving the public transport system

The need of a proper public transport system for the major urban centres has become urgent.

That the Bhutanese ego encourages ownership of vehicles and prevents one from considering the switch to public transport should not dissuade authorities from giving this service the required support.

The country saw an import of 9,500 vehicles in 2015 alone and spent Nu 8 billion to import fuel for the year. For the current year, an average of 1,000 vehicles per month are being imported. As of January 2016, the vehicle population in the country officially stands at 75,829 of which 52 percent is registered in the Thimphu region.

It is evident that owning a personal car cannot be denied as a matter of right but its usage can be minimised to a great extent if an alternative choice is made available in the form of good, reliable and affordable mass public transport.

For example, hundreds of private and government vehicles ply to Paro airport on a daily basis from Thimphu. Millions of Ngultrums could be saved from the government and private coffers if regular shuttle buses between the capital city and the airport are introduced.

Around the world, public transport is associated with progress. In the bigger cities it is found to be more convenient, quicker and a cheaper mode of travel. Besides being considered a greener form of travel which also addresses the parking space problem and reduces traffic, it is also found to increase individual savings.

Over the years, the capital city in particular is experiencing the menaces associated with the increase in the numbers of cars such as traffic congestion. While it may take some time to introduce public transport such as trams, subways, monorails or railways, we can still  improve the bus services for now. Gaining public confidence through adequate frequency, comfort, reliable and affordable services will ensure the success of system.

Further, it is important to achieve a psychological breakthrough and change preconceptions of the people on the use public transport for its success and, here, the elites and higher rank public officials must set an example.

Ignoring significant signals or warnings time and again may be deferring a problem which will only grow over time and incur huge costs in the future.

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