Unmanaged public transport troubles city commuters


Jul 13, 2014-

Kalpana Ghimire, who works for a finance company in Kathmandu, is fed up with squeezing into crowded public buses every morning while commuting to work. Unable to get a seat on the jam-packed bus, Ghimire often finds herself crammed and standing like many other fellow passengers for a very uncomfortable journey to her office.

“I always reach the bus station early in the morning hoping to find a seat. However, by the time the bus arrives at my station, it is almost always jam-packed and I have to squeeze in and stand for the whole journey,” said Ghimire.

Ghimire is just one among thousands of people in Kathmandu Valley who experience similar uncomfortable ride every day while traveling on public transport to reach their destinations.

Despite the massive rise in Kathmandu’s population in the past few years, public vehicles are still far fewer in number to ensure a comfortable, hassle free ride to commuters on a daily basis.    But no matter what we say  — lack of enough public transport or failure of the concerned agencies to designate proper routes - there is no doubt that the authorities have drastically failed to manage public transportation in the Valley.

The vehicle registration data acquired from the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) shows that altogether 742,358 vehicles have been registered in Bagmati Zone till date. Of this, 591,288 (or 79.64 percent) were motorcycles followed by car/jeep/van which totaled 92,384 (12.44 percent). As per the data, there are only

19,233 (2.59 percent) registered public vehicles for Bagmati’s total population of 3.8 million people.

Officials at the DoTM say that the private sector has been actively involved in country’s public transportation, but as long as they are hesitant, no improvement can be witnessed in the system.

“Majority of the public vehicles in the country are being operated by bus operators and syndicates without any proper plans and policies. As long as they don’t coordinate with us, it is impossible to bring about positive changes in order to end the chronic problem,” said Kashi Raj Dahal, Director General at the DoTM, adding that all routes have to be reworked and managed scientifically “or else the problem will never cease.”

Refuting Dahal’s claim, Dol Nath Khanal, General Secretary of Federation of Nepalese Transport Entrepreneurs (FNTE), said, “Coordination and cooperation among government and public vehicle operators is possible only after the government forms a commission to address the problems of public transportation. The commission should conduct an in depth study of the current situation of public transport and find out the challenges and weaknesses including measures that can be taken to resolve the problem.”

In the Capital, some of the major complaints when it comes to public vehicles are lack of well-defined travel time, dearth of facilities and security features, among others. Similarly, commuters complain lack of punctuality and reliability of public transport, which results in passengers waiting in vain for buses for hours and not reaching their destinations on time.

To tackle the problem, traffic officials suggest that the government should provide subsidies to promote mass transportation.  “In order to facilitate proper public transport, the government should hand over the overall management of public transportation to cooperatives so that they can solely focus on building and networking a reliable metropolitan transport,” said Basant Pant, Spokesperson at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Department (MTPD).

According to Pant, the best alternative for traffic management is prioritising mass transportation and replacing old vehicles. “Promoting mass transport can help solve problems of fuel shortage, parking, and help in reducing the number of private vehicles,” added Pant.

Published: 14-07-2014 10:04

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