Nepal introduces ‘hop-on hop-off’ bus services for tourists’ sightseeingTwo electric buses of Sajha Yatayat will provide tour services from the tourist bus park in Lalitpur.
Nepal, on Tuesday, started ‘hop-on, hop-off’ bus services, a convenient and hassle-free bus service for the tourists to see the Kathmandu Valley’s top attractions, mainly the world heritage sites.
The bus service was jointly inaugurated by the Nepal Tourism Board, Sajha Yatayat and Lalitpur Metropolitan City, at an event in Lalitpur.
Two electric buses of Sajha Yatayat will provide the tour services from the tourist bus park in Lalitpur.
The route passes through the Mahankal temple, Basantapur Durbar Square, Narayanhiti Royal Palace, Kamalpokhari, Pashupati Gaushala, Taragaon museum, Bouddhanath Stupa, Narayan Gopal Chowk, Swoyambhu, Jawlakhel and ends at the Sajha Yatayat’s station in Pulchowk.
The hop-on hop-off buses are very popular for sightseeing in major tourist cities of the world such as London and Paris, said Hikmat Singh Ayer, senior director of Nepal Tourism Board.
“Therefore, we have introduced this tour service in Nepal to facilitate both the domestic and international tourists,” said Ayer.
These buses will be plying on the designated route for the whole day. It will be available at the tourist destinations every 30 minutes.
The visitors can hop onto any available bus to reach the next destination.
“The service is available for free in the first week as a promotional scheme. We will determine the fare after a week,” said Sushil Raj Pyakurel, acting chairman of Sajha Yatayat.
Tourism Minister Sudan Kiranti said since there is no law regarding the hop-on hop-off services in Nepal, they have requested the Bagmati province government to make an appropriate law.
The bus has a seating capacity of 25 passengers and is wheelchair friendly. One of the buses has an air conditioning facility.
The buses will also be equipped with digital screens and sound systems to inform the tourists about the heritage sites, said Pyakurel.
Since the buses are electric, there is a problem with parking and charging them.
Sajha imported 40 electric buses last year.
However, only six of them are in operation due to the inadequate infrastructure.
Sajha Yatayat said they have requested the federal government to provide a parking facility at the trolley bus station in New Baneshwor.
“If we get the parking space, we will add some more buses in service and expand the operation to the heritage sites in Bhaktapur and Khokana as well,” said Mahendra Raj Pandey, managing director of Sajha Yatayat.
The stakeholders said with the addition of a new product, they are hopeful of increasing the numbers and stays of tourists.
Chiri Babu Maharjan, mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City, said they have invested in Sajha Yatayat to start more buses but the parking space in the metropolitan city is limited.
“The traffic police is committed to developing a dedicated bus lane in the Kathmandu valley to facilitate the hop-on hop-off bus service,” said Rajendra Prasad Bhatta, Senior Superintendent of Police.
However, the public is sceptical about the sustainability of the service.
Dilip Karki, a local of Pulchowk, said that earlier a shuttle bus service to Singha Durbar was also inaugurated by the then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. But the service no longer exists.
“The government tends to inaugurate services without much preparation and such services shut down after a few days,” Karki added.