Bus ticket bookings for the upcoming Dashain festival are scheduled to open on Wednesday. A meeting of government officials and transportation entrepreneurs held on Tuesday decided to put the tickets on sale besides postponing a planned fare hike.
The conference held at the office of the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) also agreed that ticket prices would be jacked up by 7 percent from October 18. Transportation entrepreneurs have urging the government to raise public transportation fares by at least 15 percent.
Despite the annual Dashain travel rush when hundreds of thousands of Nepalis head home to be with their families, government officials and transport operators both said that tickets would be easily available.
“People can book their bus tickets at current prices from Wednesday. Fares will be hiked only from mid-October,” said Dol Nath Khanal, general secretary at the Federation of Nepalese Transport Entrepreneurs (FNTE). People will be able to book their tickets without any hassles and serious measures have been taken to prevent trouble to travellers, he added.
Keeping in mind the festival rush when an exodus from the Kathmandu valley to the villages takes place, Khanal said that around 200 extra buses will be put into service on various routes. “Destinations having higher demand will get additional vehicles. Also, we will make sure that remote places too get abundant buses to carry passengers,” said Khanal.
According to a rough estimate, 1.5 million people will depart from the valley to celebrate Dashain at their homes this year. Around 3,500 buses are expected to leave Kathmandu on the day of Fulpati, the seventh day of the 10-day Dashain festival, said the DoTM.
Likewise, the meeting at the DoTM has also decided to limit bookings and sales to five tickets per person to prevent black marketing during the festival rush. “Transport entrepreneurs have expressed their commitment to abide by the rules,” said Mukti KC, director at the DoTM. “We will also be making monitoring efficient.”
To prevent black marketing and other undesirable activities, the DoTM has set up 10 help desks in the Kathmandu valley and 12 more elsewhere in the country. The help desks will provide information about ticket sales and also receive complaints from travellers. The complaints will be promptly forwarded to the concerned authorities. The desks will be manned by officials of transportation offices. A monitoring team comprising staff from the department has been created to oversee the help desks.
KC added that there would be a monitoring team consisting of representatives from the DoTM, Traffic Police, Nepal Police, Federation of Transportation Entrepreneurs Association, consumer groups, trade unions affiliated with the three major political parties and the Department of Commerce who will conduct random checks.
Likewise, the meeting has also concluded that the buses should not stop at highway eateries marked by red stickers. Also, the DoTM has made it mandatory for bus owners to assign two drivers on long routes. As per government rules, bus drivers need to be changed every 250 km or 6 hours.
Meanwhile, the DoTM has booked 12 bus operators for selling tickets prior to the formal opening of bookings. “We have found 12 bus operators selling tickets during the market monitoring,” said KC.