Charging system on luggage carried by passengers travelling in bus is confusing and not specific for passengers, bus drivers and operators.

Although 20 kilograms of luggage can be carried free of charge in public transport buses, passengers pay extra for all the luggage carried in a sack or cartons.

Chief transport officer with Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA), Karma Pemba, said that 20kg luggage, including cartons will not be liable to extra charge. Large cartons, he said, maybe charged extra for occupying larger space. And the amount of luggage allowed free of charge depends on the type of transport bus and the number of passengers in the bus.

A staff with a transport operator said that some drivers charge for cartons and some do not.

Karma Pemba said that to see if the buses comply with the rules, pre-departure inspections and post-arrival inspections are conducted regularly. “RSTA monitors it through its five regional and 22 base offices.”

A driver of a public transport bus said that he charges about Nu 100 for the cartons. “We have to charge extra for big luggage. But we don’t have a weighing machine here to weigh every luggage.”

Karma Pemba said that there were inquiries from passengers and media houses in the past about the luggage charges. “Passengers should insist for ticket/receipt for additional charges charged by the driver or operator, without which complaints related to extra charges cannot be accepted by RSTA officials or offices.”

According to RTSA rules, subject to weight restrictions in the bus, extra luggage shall be charged at chetrum 0.01 per kilogram per kilometre or part thereof. This means that a passenger carrying a luggage of 5kg and travelling to Phuentsholing will be charged Nu 8.

Karma Pemba said that currently, the rate is low and  RSTA would review the existing rate, regulations, and the contract agreement with the operators. “Passengers can lodge complaints against a passenger bus operator or driver along with the bus registration number, date of journey, name of Transport Company and the route of journey to any of the nearest RSTA offices.”

He said that it is important to note that passenger buses are meant for transport of passengers with limited luggage capacity. “Travelers must, therefore, be reasonable and carry only essential items for personal use.”

Phurpa Lhamo