Route Subsidy

Sri Lanka’s subsidy happy government, which has made short-term handouts the cornerstone of its economic strategy, is now planning to use at least one upcoming subsidy to push through a long-felt shake up in the country’s unruly public transport system. Sri Lanka’s subsidy happy government, which has made short-term handouts the cornerstone of its economic strategy, is now planning to use at least one upcoming subsidy to push through a long-felt shake up in the country’s unruly public transport system. The government’s transport mandarins say the state is prepared to hand out block subsidies to system operators who undertake to operate a specific bus route on a franchise award model.

Sri Lanka’s politically savvy private bus owners have resisted successive government attempts to force the formation of companies with at least 50 buses each, which could then be effectively regulated.

But the government is now hoping the carrot will work where the stick failed.

“We do not care if they are companies, associations or co-operatives,” says Transport Secretary Prof. D S Jayaweera. “We want a specific entity to receive the subsidy and be responsible for operating the route according to a timetable.”

If the government can entice the operators into so