ICT: While Bhutan Post has increased the number of buses operating between the city centre to Babesa from two to six, ScanCafe, a US-based company operating at the IT park says that the number is still not enough for its employees to get to work on time.

The company recently upscaled once more and today employs more than 400 Bhutanese at the IT park. However, despite a desire to upscale even further, future expansion plans are currently suspended. This is because not enough buses ply from the city centre to Babesa, where the IT park is located, to get employees there before or by 9am.

The IT park’s operator, Thimphu TechPark, has been attempting to solve the problem. Thimphu TechPark chief operating officer, Tshering Cigay Dorji, said that six buses currently operate to Babesa via either the expressway or Lungtenphu.

While the buses operate throughout the day, more capacity is required prior to 9am, which also happens to be the morning rush hour when both government and private office employees, and school students commute.

“However, since these are small buses and also do not take standing passengers, they transport only a small number of passengers,” he said. “Moreover, these are not dedicated to TechPark employees. They also carry other passengers,” he added.

The buses operating on the route are 19 seaters, which is a total of 114 seats.

Larger buses are unable to operate on the route because the Lungtenphu road is too narrow.

More than half of Scan Cafe’s 400 employees use public transport to get to the IT park by 9am, said the company’s manager in Thimphu. And with only 114 seats available in the morning prior to operations commencing, the manager said it is not enough.

“It’s with difficulty they’re reaching office,” said the manager, who added that the company was forced to stagger operating times. One batch of employees now arrive at 8am and another by 9am.

However, the manager pointed out that this has affected the company’s productivity and that daily targets are not being met because employees are turning up late.

The manager pointed out that the company is hoping that Bhutan Post introduces more buses by next month.

Another option being explored is to get a private bus operator to provide buses during the morning and evening rush hour.

“We are also seriously discussing with a private transport operator on using his buses during the peak hours,” Tshering Cigay Dorji said. However, he pointed out that the private operator requires pre-payment for the services and that the fare it will be charging will be slightly higher than that of Bhutan Post’s. “We’re hoping that some agreement can be reached on this soon.”

ScanCafe’s manager said that the company is aware that as a private bus operator, higher rates are being quoted but that ScanCafe is in Bhutan not to introduce a bus service for its employees. The manager reiterated the company’s hope that Bhutan Post would be able increase its number of buses in November.

However, Kuensel was able to confirm with Bhutan Post that the company will not be receiving any new buses next month ruling out any increase in frequency.

Bhutan Post currently operates 34 buses and has proposed to the government to grant it the budget to add 18 more. As of yesterday, the government was yet to approve the proposal.

Gyalsten K Dorji