14 buses will make 21 trips each morning and evening to pick and drop off students

Thimphu Thromde and the City Bus Service started a bus service for students of Yangchenphug Higher secondary School (YHSS) and Lungtenzampa Middle Secondary School (LMSS) in Thimphu yesterday.

The main aim of the initiative is to decongest vehicular traffic in the Lungtenzampa area.

Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said the bus service is provided to students of the two schools for six months on a pilot programme.

“The effort is expected to encourage students to use the buses for transportation and help reduce traffic congestion,” the thrompon said. “If the service proves effective in decongesting vehicular traffic then the same service will be provided to other schools.”

A total of 14 buses will make 21 trips each to pick and drop students from the designated bus stops in the city.

Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said the buses would be parked at the designated starting points overnight to ensure that students are dropped to schools on time.

The buses will start from Babesa roundabout, Babesa RTC junction, Changjiji, Changbangdu, Dechencholing, Pamtsho, Langjophakha, Changzamtok, Motithang bus shed, swimming pool complex, Druk school junction, Babesa RTC junction and Semtokha mani dungkhor in the morning.

The first bus will start its service at 7:15am and the last bus should reach the school parking by 8:20am.

YHSS’s vice principal, Sita Pradhan, said that traffic congestion in the area is severe during peak times. She cited incidences of hit and run cases and students getting late to schools.

She also pointed out that there could be social status issues among students who come in luxury cars and who walk to school. Besides easing traffic, Sita Pradhan said that the initiative has positive effects like safety and convenience.

A class IX student of YHSS, Pema Dregzel, said she walks to school but it takes her time to cross the road near the two schools because of traffic congestion. “There is also risk of getting hit by the vehicles,” she said. “Coming to school in a bus saves time and energy as my bag is heavy and I get tired from the first hour of the school, when I walk to school.”

Students who wish to avail of the service have to register with the two schools with their details, including their resident locations and a passport picture. The City Bus Service will issue a prepaid card, which has to be shown when boarding the bus.

Transport director Sonam Dendup said bus fare differs with locations but is still minimal.

“It costs about Nu 10.5 a student to travel from Babesa and Nu 7 from Langjophakha until the school parking after the 30 percent student discount,” he said.

“Currently, only about 50 percent of students have registered to avail the services,” Sita Pradhan said. “The number might go up as students become familiar and confident with the service.”

A total of 874 students have registered with the two schools to avail the bus services as of yesterday.

The thrompon assured that the service would be reliable and safe for students. “Safety cannot be compromised and there cannot be overloading,” the thrompon said.

Sonam Dendup said the bus drivers will be briefed on traffic rules and regulations every month and each bus will be regularly checked.

The 12 buses have a capacity of 50 passengers each including both seated and legal standees while the two buses have a capacity of 29 passengers each.

Parents who still wish to drive their children to schools could do so but starting May 8, but they will be allowed to drive only until the Changlimithang bus stop or Hotel Riverview.

Dechen Tshomo