Monday, 24 February, 2020

KMC mulling to revive night bus service


By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, Feb. 14: Kathmandu, the ancient city, is wasting its potential to attract more tourists due to lack of nightlife facilities. Most of the tourist destinations in Nepal lack entertainment venues and in Kathmandu all restaurants and cafes close by 10 pm.
Entrepreneurs have constantly been demanding for the revival of nightlife, which is a major spending avenue for tourists across the world.
They have been claiming that allowing social activities and entertainment in the evening and night can significantly contribute to making the Visit Nepal campaign a success. For this the local authorities should focus on operating late-night transport services.
In this context the city office is once again gearing up to resume night bus service inside Kathmandu to revive a robust nightlife. After numerous failed attempts, the city office is again planning to bring night buses into operation.
Almost half a month after Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai asked the local authorities of the valley to revive nighttime activities targeting the Visit Nepal Year 2020, the city office has been preparing to resume the late-night transport services.
The city office has been planning to resume the service from Nepali New Year. The night bust service will start from 8 pm, said officials. In line with the plan to revive nightlife in the city, KMC Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya has sought support of all concerned authorities to resume night bus service.
The KMC on Wednesday evening held a meeting with the concerned bodies to launch the service.
Mayor Shakya said, “It is not easy to operate night time transit service. Night bus service was once implemented from August 17, 2012 in Kathmandu Valley. However, the service came to a complete halt in lack of sufficient passengers.”
However, the society has changed a lot, said Shakya, adding that there was a need to revive nightlife and expand night transit system. “The KMC is ready to provide subsidy to the night buses operating at night, but we have to encourage the private operators to start the service,” said Shakya. The meeting was focused on operating the service from 8pm to 11pm in the first phase.
“Prior to this, the KMC has already operated pick and drop service around Tudikhel area. Though we faced criticism for a certain period, it is now successfully implemented,” said Shakya. The KMC has 18 months’ experience of operating night bus service, he said, adding that the city office would learn from the past mistakes and was preparing to implement the service successfully.
Gogan Bahadur Hamal, Director General of DOTM, said the late night transit service should be introduced gradually after the government could create an environment to bring people out of their houses to enjoy the snightlife.
“This is a positive proposal. There is no alternative to night transit service. So preparation should be made to operate the service soon,” said Hamal.
Assistant Chief District Officer of Kathmandu District Administrative Office (DAO) Jeevan Prasad Acharya assured that the DAO was ready to collaborate to operate the service.
“Usually the valley denizens return home early and this is our social practice,” said Saroj Basnet, vice-chair of Urban Planning Commission of KMC. To bring the night bus service into operation, the government should first focus on managing street lights and attract people towards the night-time entertainment venues, he added.
Joint secretary of the KMC Rajeshwor Gyawali said not all the locations of the city would have equal flow of passengers. “Korea has adopted the practice of finalizing the bus routes by using telecommunication, which detects the flow of passengers. Similar practice should be adopted by the city office.”
Raj Kumar Baidwar, Deputy Superintendent Police (DSP) of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division Kathmandu said that late-night transit service was a must to revive nightlife. “If there are more entertainment choices, venues for the tourism industry will definitely go up.”
DSP of Metropolitan Police Office Ranipokhari Bimal Basnet said once the authority would revive entertainment venues for night time, locals would begin to come out. Chairman of Bagmati State National Federation of Transportation Entrepreneurs Dhrama Raj Rimal said to make the service economically sustainable, the authority should rather increase the transportation fair rather than providing subsidy.
“In the first phase, we can operate 60 vehicles in 15 routes. For this 50 per cent increase of transportation fair is necessary,” he added.
Wednesday’s meeting has also formed a working committee led by Hari Kunwar, chief of Urban Management Division under the KMC, to operate and manage night buses in the valley.
The committee comprises representatives from traffic police, police personnel, officials of DoTM and National Federation of Transportation Entrepreneurs.  

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