ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka will be financing better buses for the public and private sector service providers under the 2019 budget, and change how buses routes function, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
The state-owned Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) will be given 1.5 billion rupees to upgrade buses, Samaraweera said during the budget speech
"SLTB’s fleet will be expanded with the addition of 250 buses with safety and user-friendly standards in the next 2 years," he said
"SLTB will also introduce buses that are more suited for those with special needs."
Private sector bus owners are eligible for the 'City Ride' loan under the Enterprise Sri Lanka borrowing program, he said.
The government will bear 75 percent of the interest cost under a City Ride loan.
Private sector bus fleets are expected to get 1,000 luxury buses under the program, Samaraweera said.
A new 'Sahasara' bus modernization program will be launched for the next five years to change how bus routes operate and provide a better service, he said.
"A Revenue Support Fund will be established as a transitional arrangement to enable bus owners to be paid on a monthly basis for the kilometer operated, rather than the highly unsatisfactory competition that exists, causing inconvenience to the public, accidents, and chaos on our roads."
"We also commit to introducing within the next few months, starting with the Central and the Western Provinces, pre-paid fare cards, electronic tracking of buses, using GPS and information on next bus and bus schedules, delivered to the palm of the passenger through mobile applications," he said.
"Private sector bus employees will now have better job security with EPF (Employees' Provident Fund) and ETF (Employees' Trust Fund) contributions being made and being eligible to get loan facilities as an incentive for better service towards passengers," Samaraweera said. (Colombo/Mar07/2019-SB)