As part of its initiative to revamp the public transport sector, the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport has launched an express bus service between Ratna Park of Kathmandu and Suryabinayak of Bhaktapur since Wednesday, targeting the peak hour mobility of passengers. However, the transport service has come into effect since Thursday. A separate red lane on each side of the road has been designated to facilitate the express buses to ply. With the operation of this service, passengers can cover the distance between Ratna Park and Suryabinayak in 45 minutes. It takes about one and a half hours for regular buses to reach Suryabinayak from Ratna Park and vice versa. The DoTM and the Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office (KVTPO), in coordination with the Federation of Nepali Transport Entrepreneurs Association, were authorised to choose the express buses in operation.
These buses operate twice a day, 9 to 11 am and 4 to 6 pm. One bus departs Suryabinayak for Ratna Park while another leaves Ratna Park for Suryabinayak every five minutes in the designated hours. Initially, around 25 buses are in operation, each having at least 39 seats. The officials have fixed 19 pick-and-drop stations along the Suryabinayak-Ratna Park route. They are thinking of increasing the number of buses as per the increase in demand. The government has taken this step to ease the movement of passengers along the Ratna Park-Suryabinayak road. It has aimed at increasing people’s attraction towards public transport and reducing traffic congestion by private vehicles, especially two-wheelers. Public vehicles plying this road section remain overcrowded during the peak hour. As this road section becomes congested with vehicles, it takes more time for them to reach their destinations.
With poor public transport system in the country, passengers have been forced to go through numerous hardships while travelling. They often feel inconvenienced due to overcrowded roads coupled with rickety vehicles. They are also hassled by vehicle drivers as well as helpers. Overcharging passengers is another issue. In such a situation, it is necessary for the transport authorities, the local governments and transport entrepreneurs to come up with suitable plans in order to bring about noticeable changes in the entire public transport system. Amid road congestions, even the express buses need to follow the speed limit. However, officials said that the red lane can also be used by emergency vehicles, including law enforcement and security agencies, fire engines, and ambulances, alongside buses carrying staff of hospitals and government institutions.
Except for such vehicles, no four-wheeler or two-wheeler of any government office are allowed to operate along the red lane in the designated time. However, discussions are still underway to let school buses ply along the red lane. Since many commuters are unaware about the red lane, officials are planning to create public awareness about such lanes. In the initial phase, the commuters will not be punished for violating the red lane rule. However, when enough public awareness is created, any trespassers on the lane in the designated time will be penalised for violating lane discipline under the transport law. The express bus service is believed to be beneficial for office-goers. Other vehicle drivers are required to prioritise express buses in order to help enhance the reliability of the public transport. Inaugurating the express bus service, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Prakash Jwala vowed to give continuity to the task of reforming the transport sector.