The Department of Transport Management (DoTM) has made booking online tickets for public bus services operating in medium and long routes mandatory.

Issuing a new directive for online ticket purchase/sale for public transport service providers on Tuesday, DoTM has asked all medium and long distance public vehicles to opt for digital ticketing.

According to DoTM, the new rule seeks to make the sale of tickets more transparent, competitive, and safe in view of the fast spreading COVID-19 infection.

Public transports covering 100-250 km one way distance has been categorised as medium distance while those covering more than 250 km have been put under the long-distance category.

Transportation service providers have been asked to integrate their computer software with the DoTM’s Application Programming Interface (API) for the same.

According to the new directive, transport companies have to make a real time entry of the details including the seat plan and number of unoccupied seats in the passenger vehicles.

“Service providers cannot charge travelers with extra fares than the one fixed by the government bodies in the name of online ticket service,” the directive reads.

Long-haul public transportation services resumed on September 17, five months after the government had decided to impose a nationwide lockdown. Many transporters have already started to offer online ticket booking facilities in view of the upcoming Dashain festival.

The new directives also makes it mandatory for transporters to open ticket booking for people three days in advance of the actual date of departure. However, bookings should be opened 30 days in advance during the national festival season such as Dashain and Tihar.

The directive allows transporters to take a 10 percent of the total fare as cancellation charge if any passenger cancels a booked ticket before 24 hours of the departure time. Meanwhile, the service providers can take up to 33 percent of the fare if the ticket is cancelled within 24 hours of the departure time.

The details such as the name, address, age and gender of passengers; licensed number plate of vehicle; arrival and departure location must be updated in real time in the software.