The commuter’s , plight

- Abijeet Pant

Nov 29, 2017-

Commuting on public vehicles in Kathmandu is no less than a brutal triathlon. First comes the race to go get a bus. Next comes the challenge to sustain in severe congestion. Last, but not least, is the struggle of getting past the crammed gangway and down to your desired stop. It is indeed strange if we manage to skip one of these events as we travel. 

We don’t often see the co-existence between need and compromise in the matter of transportation—one of our indispensable prerequisites. But we have no other option than to rely on ‘Syndicated’ transport companies that do more harm than good.

In Kathmandu, commuters seldom get to board public vehicles that have vacant seats or that can guarantee the efficiency of time and service. Most public vehicles do not have fixed stops: They pick up and drop passengers from random locations.

Passengers find themselves crammed within minimal space in gangways as vehicles ferry people well beyond their carrying capacities. Every passenger is accustomed with the humiliation that accompanies the disrespectful attitude from the vehicle crew. 

Travelling in a congested environment as such has several health risks. For starters we are susceptible to contracting contagious diseases. And then of course our psychological and emotional health is affected because of the stress and anxiety we go through on a regular basis.

Commuting in Kathmandu is also something that affects our time management hugely. Punctuality, or the lack of it, is a socio-scientific aspect to be analysed. We end up spending ample time while commuting because of the traffic congestion and lack of a system—this time could have been spent on something much more productive.

The number of new public vehicles being registered in Bagmati zone is spiking up every year. And considering the amount of traffic congestion we witness every day, I don’t think if there should be any more vehicle than there already is.

It is due to the Syndicate Monopoly that we are compelled to board in deplorable, congested vehicles. As the transport enterprise operating in a route forbids other to operate in the same, there is no healthy competition between them to reach out to passengers with best service quality. 

Commuting in public vehicles can only be comfortable if the Syndicate comes to an end. We want the contemporary vehicles to be replaced by more scientific models. They must have spacious gangways, numerous doors, and overhead bins to accommodate our bags. Above all, social etiquettes from crew and emphasis on punctuality are a must. It is high time that government creates benchmarks for systematic public vehicles to end this problem.

Recently, the traffic police and 50 transportation entrepreneurs have reached an agreement in introducing uniforms among the manpower (bus crew) involved in transportation. It is a positive step as the uniform will help them realise their responsibilities and dignity.

I surfed the internet to find how most populated cities of the world are managing their transportation. And I came to know that people standing on the buses or vehicles is prevalent even in the greatest and developed cities of world. And keeping this in mind, we should look forward to considering factors like punctuality and space in order to ensure that our journey is restful.  

It is an established fact that nearly 35 million people commute in Tokyo’s metro and it is ensured that everybody is on time. 

In comparison to them, our population is much lesser. Our city is much smaller. If stakeholders and government take this matter with sincerity, we can see significant changes in nick of time.

So, if Tokyo can, why can’t we?

Pant is a recent A Levels graduate from Budhanilkantha School

Published: 29-11-2017 10:59

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