Sri Lanka needs to remarket public transport: official


Mar 03, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s public transport needs to be developed and marketed as an attractive technologically savvy mode and an alternative to using private vehicles, rather than a low cost product used by the poorer sections of society, a senior official said.

“Change is required in Sri Lanka to think across modes of transport and plan for seamless flows,” T. Sivakumar, head, Department of Transport and Logistics Management, University of Moratuwa said.

“The world has moved on. The buses and the railway need to be re-marketed to satisfy the modern consumer. By and large with more affluence, consumers require speed and reliability ahead of cost.”

Sri Lanka’s public transport vehicles such as buses, trains, facilities such as stations, terminals, bus halts, as well as ticketing, information and customer service are the critical parameters of choice.

While there is much potential to improve current operations towards these goals, new modes such as Bus Rapid Transit, trams, monorails also have their place on certain corridors and under specific conditions, he says.

Experts say that there are many mobility solutions and options today. Especially in urban areas, travel is best completed using a combination of modes. Thus urban areas should develop different modes of transport offering choices to the people.

With urban centres becoming competitve economic hubs, no city can afford to neglect developing its urban transport system, Sivakumar says.

“We have to move to public transport but what form of public transport is a separate question.”

Data shows that vehicle speed within Colombo was between 40 to 60 kilometers per hour in 1980 but it has currently reduced to eight kilometers per hour. It is predicted that this speed will further reduce to six kilometers by 2020.

The main reason for this is the increasing number of vehicles on public roads, he said.

250,000 vehicles daily enter the Colombo city and this number annually increases by 25,000.

He also added that inland water transport is an untouched source that can support the local rail and bus transport.
“The water transport projects will be on public-private partnership or PPP basis,” Sivakumar said.

“The Kelani river project is having some issues but the Battaramulla – Wellawatte one will be launched soon as a pilot project.”

Canals cut across some of the main roads, so this can be used as an advantage, he added. “Canal transport can also be used for tourism during non-peak hours.”

He was speaking at the recently held inaugural Lanka Property Show 2017 in Colombo recently.