Following demands by private bus unions, the Ministry of Transport has decided to increase bus fares and is to submit a Cabinet proposal today regarding a fare hike.
Transport and Civil Aviation Ministry Deputy Minister Ashok Abeysinghe told the Daily FT yesterday (14 May) that the committee of experts, appointed to decide annual bus fare regulations, met yesterday afternoon to discuss the possibility of an increment in bus ticket prices.
“The Committee met yesterday and we decided that an increase in bus fares was necessary,” the Minister said, adding that Cabinet approval on the fare increase would be needed for it to be implemented.He noted that the increment percentage would discussed in the Cabinet paper, which will be handed over to the Cabinet of Ministers today (15 May).
The committee of experts, consisting of representatives from the Transport Ministry, Finance Ministry and the National Transport Commission (NTC), gather annually to revise bus ticket prices which is implemented on 1 June.
According to the Minister, the Sri Lanka Transport Board incurs a sum of Rs. 160 million for fuelling a month.
This year, the committee was compelled to meet prematurely due to the threat of strike action by private bus unions as a result of the sudden fuel price hike.
Meanwhile, Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) President Gemunu Wijeratne told the Daily FT that bus fare increments must take effect before 17 May to avoid union action. “An increment of 10% must take effect in accordance with the fuel price hike,” Wijeratne told the Daily FT.
He also added that all the increments have been informed to the NTC. The members of the All Ceylon Private Bus Owners’ Federation (ACPBOF) and the Inter-Provincial Private Bus Association (IPPBA), addressing a press conference on Sunday (13 May), said that both associations have reached a unanimous decision that bus fares should be increased from 15 May onwards. ACPBOF and IPPBA noted that the bus fares should be increased by 20%. The associations stressed that if the demands are not met by the government, members of both the ACPBOF and the IPPBA will strike from midnight on 16 May.