Public transport has a long way to go

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By Shreya Yonjan,Kathmandu, Jan. 25: Kathmandu’s commuting experience is one-of-a-kind. Despite growing number of private vehicles, there is still a huge number of Kathmandu residents who use public vehicles on the daily. Most commuters have both positive and negative responses.

Tara Adhikari, who is a student and travels from Budhanilkantha to Ratnapark everyday to attend college, shares that she has had a fairly good experience with public vehicles that run on the route. She says that as she lives very near the end of the bus station, she has it easy to go to various places from where she lives. However, she says there are days when she has to argue with the bus conductor because the fare keeps fluctuating and is dependent on his/her mood.

Similarly, Nitu Singh, who works at Pulchowk and commutes daily from Hattigauda to her workplace, says that her public vehicle experience on the same route as Tara has also been fairly good as she has previously had worst commuting experiences. She says, “When I used to live in Balkhu, although it was closer to Pulchowk it took me more time because of the absence of a direct route between Balkhu to Pulchowk.” She adds that if only there were designated bus stations and the availability of seats in the buses, public vehicle experience would not be the worst thing.

However, Samyak Shakya, 48, who lives in Dhalku, says that he would not wish the experience of public buses even to his worst enemy. He says, “One time, I had to leave my bike in the workshop as it had some problems. While I got on the Riddhi Siddhi bus, the conductor pushed me towards the end of the vehicle and I nearly got injured in  my head. However, I kept it to myself as I hate conflict, but from that day onwards I have sworn to never get on that particular bus.” lthough one might find it a bit of a stretch it’s not an exaggerated statement given that the hassle one undergoes in public vehicle is a very real one and chaotic at that and is something that is under addressed.

There seems to be a lot of problems for users due to the lack of a fixed station. Deep Kumari Gurung, 48, who lives in Balaju, says that although it’s a very laid-back experience to get on a bus and even take a snooze at times on her way to work, public vehicle experience is still daunting to her. She says that she has had to walk back a lot of times because there was no designated station on the location she had to get off.

Some people choose public vehicles because they find it unsafe to ride a two-wheeler in the valley. Parbati Tripathi, 37, says that the horror of using public vehicle is less than the normalized accidents that happen in two-wheelers. She says that despite her husband urging her to use the scooter, she finds it very difficult to get herself to actually use it irrespective of the daily hardships she faces in public vehicles.

The commuting experience of Kathmandu dwellers is filled with both hits and misses. Yet people seem to be optimistic despite the not-so-perfect public transportation system management. Therefore, it seems like a lot of people would benefit with just a few improvements as the public seems to have a very low expectation off the public transport. 

(Yonjan is an intern)

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