Bhutan has perhaps one of the most rudimentary public transportation facility in the world given its difficult geographical terrain and infrastructure constraints. There are two types of passenger vehicles today including busses and taxis.
In recent times, the increasing number of private cars poses a challenge to the passenger vehicle market in the country. Bhutan imports around 22 new private cars every day.
In Thimphu however, passenger vehicles, both taxis and busses continue to ferry increasing number of passengers. An increasing number of busses have also been catering to the transportation needs of tourists looking to explore the country.
In total, there are about 500 busses and more than 4,000 taxis in the country that registered with the road safety and transport authority.
A new government policy does not allow taxis registered in one dzongkhag to operate in another dzongkhag. The government is also working on a new regulation that would disallow civil servants from operating taxis after a certain period of time.
A person looking to operate a bus service should submit his application along with the name of the route. The road safety and transport authority will consequently carry out a feasibility study and issue an approval of the application.
Passenger vehicle operators are required to apply for a professional driving license unlike private vehicle owners.
Thimphu has the biggest bus terminal in the country with routes stretching to most parts of the country. However, in recent times, the station has suffered severe infrastructure and space constraints.
The bus terminal in Thimphu located across the road safety and transport authority head office is the busiest corner of the city serving as an important rendezvous for both passenger vehicles and private cars arriving and departing every minute.
Taxis also share a portion of the terminal area.
Plans are underway to shift the entire terminal to a more spacious location but actual construction has only begun. The new terminal is being built near the Olakha vehicle workshop, some few kilometers from the present location.
To reduce traffic bottlenecks and congestions, several roadside spaces have been designated as taxi and bus stand for passengers to be picked and dropped. To further streamline traffic and flow of vehicles, two multi-storied parking lots are being built today.
Each of these parking lots will be able to accommodate about 300 cars each at a time. To improve and offer cheap public transportation facility, the government is also looking to increase the number of busses, frequency and connect more areas within the city bus network.