Moving people

  • Kathmandu Metropolitan City should help the Sajha bus lead by example
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 18, 2015-

On August 11, the Sajha Yatayat cooperative, which has been running public buses since the last two years, signed an agreement with the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC). According to the new deal, KMC will spend Rs 100 million to buy new buses for Sajha and in return, it will receive shares worth that amount in the Sajha cooperative. As public transportation lies at the heart of urban planning, KMC has made a sensible decision to get involved in it. The decision to collaborate with Sajha Yatayat is also commendable because the service provided by Sajha is comparatively better than other options for public transportation 

The new buses introduced by Sajha are not only environment friendly but also disabled friendly. They are also more spacious than those currently in operation and have a ticketing system in place. Each bus has a CCTV camera on the doors, and there is separate entry and exit door as in its older buses. But currently, Sajha buses only run on two routes, from Lagankhel to Gongabu and from Swyambhunath to Tribhuvan International Airport. Through the new arrangement with the KMC, Sajha will be able to expand to other routes.

City planners often point to the need to improve public transportation rather than promote the use of private vehicles in urban settlements. They argue that the growing use of public transportation could greatly help lessen traffic congestion and also help reduce air pollution. Still, merely pushing for the use of public transport in cities like Kathmandu—where public vehicles neither have fixed timings for arrival or departures nor are comfortable to travel in—might not work. According to a 2011 report by Clean Air Network Nepal, more than 57 percent of public transport users are not happy with the services in Kathmandu. Most of the commuters complain about overcrowding and reckless driving. Consequently, people are keen to purchase a private vehicle. 

The KMC must keep this reality in mind when it expands the Sajha Yatayat routes. Day-to- day users of public vehicles want comfort and speed as much as cheaper fares. Further, Sajha is just one among the many bus companies operating within the Valley. So to leave a mark on public transportation in the Capital, the KMC should ensure that the Sajha bus leads by example. It could do so by not stuffing the buses with people, by not adding more seats in the bus than it has room for and making sure that its drivers abide by traffic rules. Then the other buses might learn from its example. It should also collaborate with the traffic police authorities, who should levy hefty fines for speeding, flouting lane discipline and haphazard overtaking, among others. Passengers, on their part, should also get on and off the bus at designated stops and not insist on violating traffic rules like stopping buses at the zebra crossings. 

Published: 18-08-2015 13:02

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