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People stand in lines for hours to buy bus tickets

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Sep 13, 2017-They were packed like sardines, jostling to make space even to stand, as advance bus ticket booking for the Dashain festival opened on Tuesday. People had reached ticket counters as early as 4am, two hours before ticket counters opened the windows. Some stood for almost seven hours to get the ticket.

Sujata Khanal from Dhangadi felt like winning a battle when she managed to buy five tickets—for herself, her two sisters and two friends—for her hometown after standing in a line for seven hours at Naya Bus Park in Gongabu. “But I missed my classes today,” said Khanal, a +2 student who lives in Kapan. “I was here at four in the morning. When I had tickets in my hand, it was already 11.”

Like Khanal, hundreds of people—students, teachers, government officials and daily-wage earner among others—stood in lines in Kalanki, Koteshwor, Gaushala, Koteshwor and Balkhu to buy bus tickets.

Though advance ticket booking for Dashain was supposed to start from September 7, it was delayed after transport entrepreneurs and the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) could not reach an agreement on some issues including transport fare and carrying luggage on the roofs of the vehicle.

The transport entrepreneurs and the DoTM on Saturday reached an agreement to open ticket booking from Tuesday.

This time advance ticket booking has been opened just 10 days before Ghatasthapana, the first day of the 10-day Dashain festival, which will be observed on September 21. Earlier, people could buy tickets three weeks before Ghatasthapana. 

Counters selling tickets for western districts like Palpa, Gulmi, Nepalgunj, Arghakanchi, Mahen-dranagar and Dhangadi among others saw huge crowds on Tuesday. Counters selling tickets for the eastern districts were comparatively less crowded.

Saroj  Sitaula, chairperson of the Federation of Nepalese Transport Entrepreneurs  (FNTE), said counters for western, mid-western and far-western districts are centralised at Naya Bus Park, hence they were hugely crowded. “Tickets for eastern districts are sold from various locations in the Valley.”

 Rajesh Pradhan, a school teacher in Kathmandu, said that though advance ticket booking system was a good idea, its management was poor.

“I had to stand in line for about six hours,” said Pradhan who bought three tickets for his family for his home district Arghakhanchi. “We are living in the 21st century, and yet we have to stand in lines for hours to buy tickets,” he said.

According to the FNTE, around 2,500 vehicles will be leaving the Valley every day till Ghatasthapana. Afterwards, over 7,000 buses, minibuses and microbuses will be leaving the Valley every day, as passenger pressure will grow, said Pradhan.

Over 2 million people are expected to leave the Valley for their hometowns this festival, the DoTM said.

Published: 13-09-2017 09:04

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