Sri Lanka to extend Priority Bus Lanes to reduce congestion

Apr 27, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Megapolis Ministry has decided to expand the Priority Bus Lane concept to reduce traffic congestion in Colombo.

Allocation of a Priority Bus Lane was implemented as a pilot project on Parliament Road between 12th and 23rd March with assistance of the Korean International Cooperation Agency.

“It shows a positive outcome in reducing traffic congestion,” Megapolis Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said.

“The speed within the trial section increased considerably.”

Accordingly, Bus Priority lanes will be implemented in following road sections during busy hours.

– Moratuwa-Ratmalana, Wellawatta-Kollupitiya in Galle Road
– From Parliament Junction to Rajagiriya, Borella, Maradana, Pettah and Colombo Fort in Parliament Road
– From roundabout in Chiththampalam A. Gardiner Mw to Pettah
– Thummulla Junction to Museum Junction
– Eye Hospital roundabout to Thummulla Junction

JICA study conducted in 2014 identified the average speed from Boralla to Welikada Junction as 9.5 km/Hr. Under the pilot project, the achieved bus speed passed the international accepted norm of 20 km/hr.

Minister Ranawaka said the bus lane benefited more than 40 percent of the commuters even though it carried just five percent of the vehicles.

Commuter survey conducted by the University of Moratuwa which covered bus passengers, private vehicles and three wheel drivers revealed that over 50 percent of users indicated significant travel time savings.

Seventy percent wanted the project to continue to permanency, while over 60 percent wanted it extended to other roads as well. Around 10 percent were seen to indicate negative responses.

Megapolis Ministry has also decided to take action to attract the middle class to use public transport services by improving their quality.

It has been decided to promote importation of low floor air-conditioned buses through concessionary loan schemes.

Preparing a common ticketing system with electronic card payment facilities and improvement of three-wheeler/taxi parking facilities were among other steps.

The estimated costs for proper implementation are 500 million rupees for CMC road sections and 1,350 million rupees for the RDA road sections.

Longer term solutions such as LRT and railway electrification may take many years to complete and faster solutions are needed to manage the immediate future.