1000 Chinese buses are to ply initially on new priority lanes of several roads in Colombo and suburbs under a special peak hour, fully air conditioned private bus service to encourage better use of public transport and reduce worsening traffic congestion.
President of the Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association Gemunu Wijeratne told the Business Times that they have ordered 1000 buses from China to operate the special luxury bus service soon on priority lanes from 6 am to 8 am, 4 pm to 6 pm and 8 pm to 12 midnight daily.
A proposal has been made to keep open shops and relevant government institutions to enable the public to do shopping after duty hours and obtain public services, he said adding a common ticketing system with electronic card payment facilities will also be introduced.
Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawake noted that this system is being introduced to ease increasing traffic congestion despite a sum of Rs. 1 trillion being spent to improve infrastructure facilities during the past decade. Another Rs.1 trillion is to be spent on expressways within the next few years.
The country’s public transport is deteriorating with more people shifting to private transport modes like motorcycles, three-wheelers and cars, he said pointing out that the aim of his ministry is to introduce a better public transport service and make it attractive and efficient enough for people to use it.
“Today there are over 6.3 million vehicles in Sri Lanka,” he said, pointing out that in the Western Province alone 6 million people make 10 million trips on a daily basis contributing to the traffic congestion.
He said according to the City Traffic Police around 510,000 vehicles enter Colombo city alone, daily.
Minister Ranawake revealed that new schemes such as the Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) as well as the ‘Park and Ride’ concept is to be introduced to Sri Lanka.