KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 5 The Department of Transport Management (DoTM) is preparing to open advance booking of tickets of public vehicles for the festive season from October 11. The department is preparing to open advance bookings for the festivals after holding needful discussions with the concerned stakeholders, said Loknath Bhusal, information officer of DoTM. According to Bhusal, the number of passengers travelling via land is likely to decline this year, thus the department is preparing to open advance bookings for 600,000 passengers only. “Last year around two million passengers had travelled to their hometowns from Kathmandu valley. However, this year we have estimated that the number of passengers travelling out of the valley is likely to drop to 600,000,” he said, “So, we are reducing the number of bookings this year.” The Dashain festival will begin from October 17 thus the department wants to open bookings a week before that. “This strategy will not only help passengers avail tickets easily but will also aid the government in monitoring vehicle owners and middlemen who might sell tickets at an expensive rate by taking advantage of festive season,” Bhusal informed. He further mentioned that the department has been holding frequent discussions with transportation owners and traffic police. The department had held a meeting with transportation owners on Friday, however, the meeting concluded without any decision. According to Bhusal, the meeting has been postponed for October 9. Meanwhile, the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE) will have discussions with their regional associations across the country till October 8 and the department will release ticket fare list and other plans for vehicle operation, said Bijay Swar, senior vice president of FNNTE. Compared to vehicle operation for short- and medium-distance destinations, long-distance vehicle operation is quite difficult to manage during the pandemic thus the department and stakeholders are taking a bit more time, he added. “We have almost completed our preparations. However, we still want the government to allow us to carry 100 per cent passengers for long-distance travel,” Swar said. “This will benefit both the passengers and vehicle owners.” If the government allows the vehicle owners to operate with 100 per cent passengers then the FNNTE is also ready to charge regular fare, he added. Earlier on September 23 the federation had submitted a letter to the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport requesting it to allow them to carry 100 per cent passengers. After six months of restrictions the government allowed the operation of long-distance public vehicles from September 17 with a condition to carry only 50 per cent passengers and charge double the regular fare.