Wednesday July 24, 2019

Sri Lanka to test bus priority traffic system

Mar 08, 2017 13:43 PM GMT+0530 | 5 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will test a bus priority system in a suburb of the capital Colombo on the most congested route into the city to encourage greater use of public transport and reduce worsening traffic jams.

Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka said traffic jams were worsening despite almost a trillion rupees being spent on improving roads in the past decade.

“At the same time use of public transport is declining. More people have shifted to private modes like motorcycles, three-wheeled trishaws and cars,” he told a news conference.

“If 40 people going by bus decide to go by motorcycles, trishaw or car, they will take up 7-10 times the amount of road space of buses,” Ranawaka said. “Unless we improve public transport, traffic jams will only get worse.”

The week-long test of the bus priority lane system starts next Sunday, 12 March, on a one kilometre stretch of the road to Fort in the city centre from the suburb of Malabe.

It will be from Rajagiriya junction to the Ayurveda junction, on both Parliament Road and Old Cotta Road.

Ranawaka said the government has no intention of forcing people to shift from private to public transport, as was done in Singapore using heavy tolls on cars entering the city centre.

The bus priority lane project, where buses would be given a separate lane and get priority at traffic signals ahead of private car and motorcycle users, was to test how it would work in practice and the public reaction.

“It will be a success if we can save time for people on their daily commutes,” Ranawaka said. “Today about a Rs1 billion is lost daily because of traffic jam, or about Rs350 billion a year.”

Amal Kumarage, senior professor in the Department of Transport and Logistics Management at the University of Moratuwa, said the government has to use the limited road space to benefit the greatest number of people.

“A bus priority lane is necessary when traffic jams become an economic and social issue, when demand for road space is more than what can be supplied,” said Kumarage, a former chairman of the National Transport Commission.

Bus lanes are also needed when the efficiency of using available road space begins to fail and when non-road solutions are not acceptable and more costly.

“Along with the bus lane, modernisation of the bus industry is necessary,” Kumarage said. “We need modern buses to encourage the shift from cars. We need to change the attitude of people.”

New, low floor air-conditioned buses will be introduced, bus halts improved, along with connectivity with rail, timetables and reliable schedules and electronic ticketing.

Saman Vidanapathiranage, deputy director of the highway design division of the Road Development Authority, said bus priority means that at traffic signals buses get priority, before cars.

”We will create new bus halts and transit passenger pathways and be working with the police during the test to see how the system works,” he said.

The ministry said in a statement that bus priority aims to ensure those travelling by bus are not penalised by slower travel, with Colombo city bus travel sped now being only 8km an hour while using a car is twice as fast.

“A five minute improvement in travel time between Battaramulla (near Malabe) and Fort will result in savings of time and fuel estimated at Rs6 a year.”
(COLOMBO, March 08, 2017)



  1. Siva March 12, 11:09 AM

    Bus priority is the buzzword of the time. It is the 1st step of many. Bus priority has wider range of priority measures. Therefore, lets look forward for the trial run and lets welcome the success/ benefit to go through the rest of the steps to add on features which makes the public transport attractive.
    Little by little, we citizens could archive all the demands placed in the above comments. Lets start from ground and climb on ladder step by step than dreaming of jumping to celestial/sky. Lets be patient (its just a start...) but focused: SriLanka also will place a record around the world for cost effective transit solution.

  2. sacre blieu March 09, 10:52 AM

    Considering the ownership and the lot who run the busses, our transport system is stuck in the mud and will continue to be so for the many years to come. The licenses are held mostly by those in uniform, local politicians and their thugs, and also by those in the transport Ministry and other connected people.

    We now do not get our balance money, absolutely awful base behaviour towards the passengers and much too much overcrowding at times. The CTB could be the ideal alternative, but has to be handled by professionals at every level, with better comfortable busses with sufficient leg room for tall people, and any interference should be totally disallowed, also an incentive on the sale of tickets allowed.

    A modest higher ticket charge or a season ticket or in the alternative a swipe digital card should be introduced. A adjusted time table and frequency during busy hours should be organised.

  3. Sriy March 09, 07:14 AM

    Correct. Prof Kumarage should first go in a bus before trying to pack us into buses. CTB and many private buses are built on lorry body chasis.They are uncomfortable and sweaty.
    Some private buses have a/c and actually buses with passenger suspension but they are overcrowded and full of perverts also.
    These people have no idea. Get the LRT moving.
    Or get good quality buses and start a circulator. If a bus lane can beat traffic and go faster there is a chance though, that people will use it.

  4. godsi March 09, 07:05 AM

    Good to see D.Minister Alagiyawanna doing this with the advice of {rofessor Kumarage. Its not going to work as already this road has soo much traffic and with bus lane there will be long and long queues.
    For how long. question is will ministers get off their vehicles and move to bus, will Prof Kumarage go in the bus or will Dr Saman not use his official vehicle and go in the bus.

  5. Spifire March 08, 09:28 AM

    Look sunshine why people are not using the present public transport is b'cos it is in such a bad state. You have no control over the transport system Bus Gamunu the rest of the gang has got you in a barrel you don't have a clue what to do with them.

    Set standards for operational requirements of buses. Then you can have dedicated bus lanes. Also I like to ask PCR when did you last do a journey in a bus??? Please don't get idiotic ideas aping the developed countries without a set of rules regulations.

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