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Bhutanโ€™s Revised Taxi and Bus Fares Stir Controversy Amidst Rising Inflation Concerns

โ€ฆ๐‘ฐ๐’ ๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’‘๐’๐’๐’”๐’† ๐’•๐’ ๐’“๐’Š๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‡๐’–๐’†๐’ ๐’‘๐’“๐’Š๐’„๐’†๐’”, ๐’„๐’๐’Ž๐’Ž๐’–๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’’๐’–๐’†๐’”๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’˜๐’‰๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’˜๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’๐’๐’˜๐’†๐’“ ๐’‡๐’‚๐’“๐’†๐’” ๐’Š๐’‡ ๐’‡๐’–๐’†๐’ ๐’‘๐’“๐’Š๐’„๐’†๐’” ๐’…๐’†๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’”๐’†.

Tshering Dorji

The Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority (BCTA) has implemented a revision in taxi and bus fares, effective from September 1. This move, however, has not been met with enthusiasm among passengers who heavily rely on public transport, especially in the face of ongoing inflation concerns that are affecting their livelihoods.

According to the updated public transport fare structure issued by the BCTA, the new rates are determined by vehicle type and travel route. For intra-city travel in 5 to 6-seater taxis, passengers will now be charged Nu 24.06 per kilometer, up from the previous rate of Nu 23.46 per kilometer. In instances where four passengers share a taxi, each passenger’s cost per kilometer amounts to Nu 6.

When it comes to inter-city travel, the revised fare stands at Nu 22.08 per kilometer, in contrast to the previous rate of Nu 21.36 per kilometer.

Pema, a taxi driver operating in Thimphu, expressed optimism regarding the fare adjustment, believing it would benefit drivers. He said, “With this fare revision, we are hopeful about improved earnings. Attracting passengers, meeting loan obligations, and covering daily expenses have become increasingly challenging. The fare revision brings a glimmer of hope for enhanced income.”

However, the fare increase has left passengers pondering their transportation choices. Sangay Wangmo, a regular public transport commuter, reflected, “Public bus travel used to be the economical choice, and we often preferred it. However, with the recent fare hike, I am now questioning whether there will be a significant difference between taking a taxi and using public bus services.”

Another commuter added, “This fare hike was anticipated, especially considering the recent civil servantsโ€™ salary hike. It appears to be only a matter of time before public transportation costs rise, and we can expect an overall increase in the prices of various goods and services. Private sector workers like us can only begin to anticipate the potential challenges that lie ahead in our daily lives.”

Leki, a commuter from Hongtsho to Thimphu, expressed acceptance of the BCTA’s decision to revise public transport fares. However, she also voiced a desire for fare reductions when fuel prices decrease.

Tshomo, a 52-year-old resident of Trashigang, raised concerns, stating, “In the past, when I traveled from Trashigang to Thimphu by coaster bus, I used to pay Nu. 1000. However, now the fare has increased to over Nu.1400, which is becoming quite expensive. As farmers, we primarily rely on public transport, believing it to be an affordable option. If the government continues raising fares in response to fuel price hikes, it could pose significant challenges for us, as our income is dependent on farming.”

The revision of taxi and bus fares has ignited discussions across Bhutan, as passengers and drivers grapple with the changes and contemplate their daily-life implications. The challenge now is to strike a balance between the needs of both passengers and drivers while considering the broader economic context. With inflation remaining a pressing concern, the impact of these fare adjustments on the lives of those relying on public transportation and working in the private sector remains uncertain.

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