27 buses to reach by November

To improve reliability and efficiency of urban transport, the City Bus Service under Thimphu Thromde has ordered 27 buses, which are expected to reach Thimphu by October end.

Officials from the City Bus Service said they are also planning to introduce new bus routes, smart card system, and global positioning system (GPS) tentatively from November. The new routes include a trunk route or main route from Babesa zero in the south till Pangrizampa in the north.

Officials said 10 buses from north and 10 buses from south in the capital city will move to and fro and a bus would reach a bus stop within 10 minutes. 

Two or four buses will move through the subsidiary routes and will reach the trunk route in 15 minutes. Subsidiary routes are for places not covered by trunk route such as Motithang, Changzamtog, Lungtenphu,  Changjalu, Changbangdu, Debsi and many other areas. A passenger would have to wait for only upto five minutes to board a bus at the terminal route.

City Bus Service’s manager, Sangay Dorji, said  there is only one terminal near Changlam taxi parking today and with additional buses, it could create more traffic congestion.  

He said they were exploring places for more terminals. “One terminal is approved for South Thimphu, in the Babesa zero vicinity.”

According to the manager, buses follow a circular route meaning they have to start and end the journey at the terminal. “Circular routes consume time and are not efficient.”

He said Thimphu thromde’s geographic information system (GIS) team has mapped the route, bus stops and accessibility by footpath according to population density in the city. 

Sangay Dorji said the present bus stops, which were randomly selected, would be removed and new bus stops would be identified according to the findings of the GIS team. Bus stops at places where population density is high would have shelter and seats whereas those places with low population density would have shelters for people to stand and wait.

City Bus Service has also developed a mobile application for users to track the buses through GPS, where a user can use the application for convenience to track the bus one wishes to board. 

Sangay Dorji said the fare would remain the same with the new reforms.  City bus fare ranges between Nu 5 and Nu 25 depending on distance. 

A smart card system in four categories would also be introduced, which are concession cards for persons with disabilities and underprivileged, senior citizen card, regular card, and student card.

An individual needs to purchase the smart card which would cost less than 100 and can be recharged with any amount. The smart card will calculate the distance and deduct the fare accordingly. 

Sangay Dorji said that for the first phase, about 10 agents would be identified to recharge smart cards. “We are looking to incorporate digital banking to recharge the smart card.” 

He said smart cards would reduce revenue leakage though pay on board would also remain but those paying on board would be charged more to encourage people to use smart cards. 

Sangay Dorji said the measures were expected to gain public trust to use public transport service to improve the urban transport in the city.

Meanwhile, City bus service has a plan to procure two electric buses through project in the coming year.

By Yangyel Lhaden

Edited by Tashi Dema