Lack of bus stops irk commuters

Connectivity: It is a windy Sunday evening in Thimphu. Tshering Wangmo, her six-month-old daughter and her 54-year-old mother have been waiting for the city bus for the last 20 minutes.

Without a proper enclosure at the city’s first model bus stop in Changjiji, those waiting for buses at the stop are confronted with several challenges. “During winters, it is very cold waiting for the bus here. And the dusts from vehicles plying on the expressway makes it worse,” said Tshering Wangmo.

During summers, the leaf-like bus stop does not protect the public from rain. However, city bus commuters like Tshering Wangmo are at least happy that they have a bus stand where they can rest while waiting for the bus.

“In other places there is just a pole designated as a bus stop,” said Tshering Wangmo adding that the bus stops don’t even have a place to sit. “For old people like my mother, it is difficult to stand there and wait for 20-30 minutes.”

Currently there are about 170 city bus stops in Thimphu of which only 70 are identified as feasible for a bus shed. With the addition of 18 more buses to Thimphu city bus fleet, the requirement for additional and proper bus stand is felt evermore.

Transport director with the city bus service, Sonam Dendup said that along with the increasing number of buses and improved services, it is important that the thromde create facilities like footpaths and bus stops for the convenience of the public and the bus services.

“It is not the mandate of the city bus service to establish bus stops but it is the thromde’s responsibility,” said Sonam Dendup.

Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said that according to the thromde’s plan, there are plans for about 100 bus stands and currently the office is looking for funds.

“Not all 100 bus stops are required immediately so we will give priority to about 40 to 50 bus stops to be established in some densely populated areas within a year or two,” said Kinlay Dorjee.

The thrompon added that the location and space the thromde has created for bus stops in areas like the expressway will be first blacktopped. “We are working on it and we are also exploring different bus stop designs for different spaces.”

The city’s model bus stop design, which was inaugurated last year, received much criticism on the design and cost. The information and communications ministry spent Nu 900,000 to build the model bus stop. Following the criticism, the ministry decided not to replicate the bus stop.

Kinlay Dorjee said that the main criticism on the Changjiji bus shed is that it is not wind proof. “If we have to make it wind proof then we have to build a wall or have glass fence,” he said. “Miscreants will break the glass and the earlier bus stands that we have with walls look ugly and are not fully utilised.”

The thrompon added that with all the criticism, the thromde is exploring measures to build public-friendly and efficient bus stands once the fund is acquired.

Meanwhile, the 18 new buses will start plying around the city from December 17. City bus services has identified an additional three more routes for the buses. The office also has plans to minimise the buses coming to the terminal and operate more from point to point, reducing  congestion at the terminal.

With the addition of 18 new city buses, Thimphu today has 48 city buses.

Younten Tshedup 

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