Sherab Lhamo

In a bid to reduce road traffic congestion and encourage bus usage, Thimphu will initiate a pilot test for a priority city bus lane starting in August.

The trial run will begin on the south side, stretching from Babesa Zero point to the Changzamtog flyover bridge during peak hours from 7 to 10am and 3:30 to 6:30pm.

The primary goal of the project is to enhance the reliability and efficiency of the bus system while simultaneously curbing carbon emissions and reducing fuel imports.

Pasang Tshering, the director of City Bus Services, highlighted the challenges faced by city buses in adhering to schedules, particularly during peak hours. He noted that approximately 60 percent of morning passengers consist of students and office-goers who suffer the consequences of delayed bus arrivals.

The priority lane has been divided into three phases.

The initial phase covers the south side, extending from Babesa to the flyover, followed by the stretch from the flyover to the telecom junction, and finally from the junction to Taba. The progression to subsequent phases will depend on the success of the first phase and feedback received from the south side.

Thimphu Thromde will collect feedback through distributed forms and their social media platforms.

Pasang Tshering said that the rationale behind selecting the expressway, citing the high volume of traffic compared to other roads, was the number of cars is limited.

An advocacy video promoting the project has been widely shared on social media platforms.

The initiative is a collaboration between the City Bus Service Office, Thimphu Thromde, Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority (BCTA), Thimphu Traffic Division, and Royal Bhutan Police (RBP).

The priority lane will be exclusively designated for use during peak hours when traffic congestion is highest. The strategy aims to alleviate road traffic and encourage the utilisation of bus transport during these time frames.

Pasang Tshering emphasised that the implementation of the priority lane will also benefit taxi drivers, as buses do not provide last mile connectivity.

While taxi drivers may experience a decrease in earnings, they stand to benefit from an increased number of passengers, with each bus accommodating up to 50 individuals, Pasang Tshering said.

He added that the bus lanes will be accessible to all buses and priority vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks, and vehicles with police escorts.

Private vehicles in emergency situations will also be allowed to use the priority lane.

During the pilot test, the same number of buses will be deployed, with a frequency of one bus every eight minutes, Tshering confirmed.

Should the pilot project face any challenges, the traffic police will prioritise the movement of city buses on the road to ensure their smooth operation.