Yangyel Lhaden

People who want to travel inter dzongkhags can now travel in taxis at a reduced rate.

This was made possible as Bhutan Taxi Association (BTA) established a taxi counter service (TCS) at the Road Safety Transport and Authority (RSTA) building in Thimphu amongst the counters where people buy bus tickets.

The reduced fare came into effect from July 14 after more than 100 taxi drivers registered with TCS and provided the service. Their rates are lower than RSTA’s approved rate for the public (Taxi) transport.

While the RSTA’s approved taxi fare from Thimphu to Paro is Nu 250 for a person, people travelling with TCS have to pay only Nu 200. Similarly, fare from Thimphu to Phuntsholing with TCS is Nu 555 a person whereas RSTA approved rate is Nu 770. Fare from Thimphu to Samtse with TCS is Nu 1,015 a person whereas RSTA approved rate is Nu 1,103.

The president of BTA, Rinzin Chophel, said taxi drivers registered with TCS proposed the new rate. “BTA and RSTA were not involved in reducing the fare.”

He said that RSTA officials only told them they could reduce the fare, but not increase it.

Rinzin Chophel said TCS was established during the pandemic to curb the crowd as many people gathered in the taxi stand. “Through TCS, a person can book a taxi through phone call and there will be pick up services from passenger’s home.”

He said that BTA wanted to establish TCS for the last two years as the association received many complaints from people of unfair charges by taxi drivers. “People who want just and fair service can avail TCS service.”

However, taxi drivers in Thimphu, who have not registered with TCS, are unhappy with the reduced fare for intra dzongkhag travels.

They said the new reduced rates would hamper their business as people would prefer to travel with taxis registered with TCS.

A taxi driver, Dorji Wangdi, who did not register with TCS said people might travel with taxis registered with TCS, as the fares are lower and people might assume they were charging higher although the rate they charge is approved by RSTA.

Another taxi driver, Phub Tshering, said with fuel prices skyrocketing, he would not join TCS as even with the normal rate he could hardly make ends meet during the pandemic.

Drivers registered with TCS travels to 13 dzongkhags as of now, but BTS plan to estabish in 20 dzongkhags.

Edited by Tashi Dema