Officials say that the numbering system is based on the type and category of vehicles
Following the pictures of two buses with the same numbers that went viral on social media on 21st January 2023, the Road Safety and Transport Authority, now known as Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority (BCTA), was hit with a series of criticism and blamed for negligence and proper monitoring. However, officials from BCTA clarified that the numbers (digits) allotted to vehicles are based on features and categories and that it is possible for two vehicles to have the same numbers.
“For the purpose of registration, motor vehicles are categorized as heavy, medium, light vehicles, equipment, farm machinery, two wheelers including electric, and, any other category of vehicle proposed to be driven by persons with disabilities, which does not fall under the categories mentioned above,” an official from BCTA said.
He also added that the vehicle registration system is such that the same digit of number can be used in different categories of motor vehicles. Referring to the picture of the two vehicles that came out on social media, he said that one vehicle in the picture is a heavy vehicle and the other, a medium one.
“It is not at all unusual. However, people might not be aware of the registration system in the authority, which has caused confusion among the people,” he said, adding, “”it is coincidental that two different categories of vehicles with the same digit number have been spotted together.”
He further clarified that the two buses with same numbers have different features, such as seating capacity and gross vehicle weight, adding that the registration number for a motor vehicle in one category can be the same as the other in a different category.
For instance, the four-digit registration number BP-1-A0001 assigned to one of the heavy buses can also be assigned to one of the medium buses, light vehicles, two-wheelers, equipment, and farm machinery. “Nonetheless, there is a difference in the category and the features of every motor vehicle with the same registration number,” he underlined.
The official also mentioned that it is important for people to know that passenger transport services normally have the address of their ports of departure and destinations, displayed on the vehicle’s windshield for passengers’ information. On a positive note, he said that it’s good that this has happened as the authority has availed an opportunity to raise awareness among the public about the registration system.
Following the post on social media, many people expressed concern about the difficulties passengers faced in identifying their vehicles and called for improvements. People also expressed concerns that the numbers could be fake. In connection to this, BCTA confirmed that it was neither a fake nor a manipulated number, but a legally registered motor vehicle, under different categories of vehicles.
Meanwhile, the RSTA (BCTA) data on the numbers of vehicles as of December 31, 2022, shows that Bhutan has a total of 125,534 vehicles of which 68,760 are in Thimphu. 39,329 vehicles are in Phuentsholing, followed by 8,701 in Gelephu, 5,761 in Mongar and 2,983 in Samdrup Jongkhar. The categories of vehicles as of the third quarter of 2022, comprises of 11,988 Heavy vehicle (HV), 588 Heavy buses (HB), 1,794 Medium Vehicles (MV), 384 Medium buses (MB), 81,258 Light vehicle (LV), 12,418 Two wheelers (TW), 4,041 power tillers, 592 Tractors, 4,077 , Earth moving equipment (EME) and 224 Electro vehicles.
Tshering Pelden from Thimphu