l Karma Yuden, Thimphu
In order to provide people centric city bus services in the country, the City Bus Services (CBS), which functions under the Bhutan Post Corporation Limited (BPCL), has identified 16 main activities, including the introduction of electric cars.
CBS’ strategy paper underlines the need for procurement of additional buses. “The number of frequency is directly dependent on the availability of resources with the operator. The resources include the procurement of additional buses and man power. Currently, from the main terminal, the frequency during the rush hour is 10-15 minutes and 30-60 minutes during the lean hours. In future, with the increase in commuters, the frequencies during the rush hours are to bring to 5-10 minutes and 15-30 minutes during the lean hours,” it reads. The need for 50-60 buses has been highlighted.
The introduction of real time bus information system (BIS) is one of the activities identified. BIS is a real time bus information system which uses Global Positioning System (GPS) devices to position buses and provide information such as current location, expected time of buses at specific location.
The strategy paper has also highlighted the collection of fares using technology. According to the CBS, the piloting of smart card system in one bus on one route for about four months has seen drastic reduction on revenue leakages and improved service delivery to the commuters. Thus, CBS is exploring options of up scaling this system to all the routes and buses within Thimphu and gradually expand it to other towns and cities in future. Similarly, establishment of automated bus wash facilities are on the cards. This would facilitate washing of a large number of buses within a short span of time. Currently, it takes about an hour to wash one bus. The introduction of an automated bus wash facility will save time and enable buses to quickly get to the route.
The expansion of city bus service to other towns is also being planned. “The CBS has been instructed to explore feasibility of introducing city bus service in other towns and cities in Bhutan,” the strategy paper states. For the beginning, some of the Dzongkhags included in the list are Gelephu, Samdrup Jongkhar, Paro, Bumthang and Monggar. The implementation of this will be proposed for the 12th Five Year Plan.
Apart from making transportation facilities efficient, the CBS also aims to reduce the emission of green house gases. According to the CBS, the energy sector with transportation as the major contributor in Bhutan accounts for 44% of the total emission in the atmosphere. It is stated that the introduction of electric buses in the country will not only reduce congestion but also lead to zero emission in the atmosphere, which is also in line with the concept of Gross National Happiness.
The need to create awareness on the use of public transport is identified as one of the cornerstones for switching from private cars to public transports. It is underlined that through awareness, people will be informed about the advantages of using public transport both at the societal as well as the individual level.
The strategy paper underlines that the core area of the city gets congested on a daily basis because of the increased use of personalized cars. Thus, it is the plan of CBS to introduce 8-10 buses with smaller capacity with immediate effect. The need of increased budget is highlighted. Upon introduction, these buses would cater services to people moving in the core areas and connect busy places like the hospital, vegetable market, Norzin and Changlam area, Dzong and others so that the use of personal use is reduced.
Meanwhile, the mission of CBS is to provide quality, efficient, reliable, safe, comfortable and cost effective city bus transport system to all; provide eco-friendly mode of transportation that will contribute to the reduction of GHG emission and to explore other viable business options related to transport service to make it sustainable.