Gongabu bus park aims to start online ticketing by DashainAll 32 counters inside the bus park have already started issuing tickets to 65 districts from a computerised system.
Kathmandu’s Gongabu bus park, also known as New Bus Park, country’s biggest domestic bus terminal, has launched a digital ticketing service.
The bus park decided to go digital two months before the Dashain, the biggest Hindu festival when hundreds of thousands of people leave Kathmandu for their hometowns within a span of a few days creating a huge rush for tickets.
The bus park officials said they adopted the digital ticketing system to avoid crowding at counters and to mitigate Covid-19 transmission.
“We have already replaced hand-written tickets,” said Sunil Kunwar, general manager of Lhotse Multipurpose Private Limited that has been handling the bus park since 1999 under a public-private partnership agreement with the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. The new system allows passengers to choose seats in advance and reduce ticket duplication.
“By Dashain, in the first week of October, all ticket bookings will be online,” said Kunwar. He said the company is consulting application developers for the purpose.
All 32 ticket counters inside the bus park have already started issuing tickets to 65 various districts from a computerised system.
Every year, ahead of the Dashain festival, tens of thousands of people form long queues outside Kathmandu’s bus ticket counters from early hours. The bus park management has long been criticised for its failure to make the ticket sales process free of hassles for passengers.
“From this year, passengers will get tickets without any hassles. And this is also a move towards making the ticket sales foolproof,” said Kunwar.
Bus operators said the online booking system will also discourage the practice among some unscrupulous transporters of charging passengers exorbitant fares during festivals.
“This is a welcome move. Now people can book bus tickets just like air tickets. They are working on an online ticket booking system,” said Rabi Rimal, vice-general secretary of the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, Kunwar said around a quarter of the bus operators at Gongabu bus park have already started selling tickets online through e-Sewa, an online payment app.
The New Bus Park sprawls over 161 ropanis [8.29 hectares] and has a capacity to accommodate up to 1,200 buses at any time. Officials say every day the bus park sees 20,000 to 25,000 incoming and outgoing passengers in around 500 buses.
The bus park’s ticket counters were closed for nearly a year since the imposition of the first Covid-19 lockdown in March last year. After reopening for around four months this year, they were closed once again in April-end following the imposition of another lockdown before being reopened on July 25.
“We have computerised the ticketing system and trained our 300 staffers,” said Kunwar.
The bus park was constructed under Japan’s government’s financial assistance through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 1997/98. And in 1999, the bus park was handed over to the Lhotse Multipurpose Private Limited, which has had an agreement with the Kathmandu Metropolitan City to operate the bus park for 45 years.