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Sri Lanka bus lane experiment showing results: officials

ECONMYNEXT – An experimental bus priority lane on a congested road leading to Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, has valuable insights and has started to smoothen traffic on the second day of operation, officials said.

A bus only lane test on a Sri Lanka’s Malabe to Colombo arterial road led to massive traffic jam on Monday but as drivers got used to it, traffic had speeded up, Amal Kumarage, a transport specialist from Sri Lanka’s Moratuwa University said.

After dropping below 10 kilometres per hour in the rush hour on the first day, traffic speed had moved back to 20 kilometres or more on the second day. There had been severe criticism over the congestion experienced in the first day.

Minister of Megapolis Development, Patali Ranawaka said buses carry large volumes of people taking very little space while cars took up more space but carried less people justifying the priority.

Minister Ranawaka said the quality of buses in Sri Lanka was low which had put people off and made them go in private vehicles, but by giving priority to buses, more people would travel.

"The quality of buses also has to improve," he said.

In the 8.00h to 900h as much there were only 118 buses, but they had carried more than 50 percent of total passengers moving to Colombo, Kumarage said.

Kumarage said school vans and office vans could also be moved to the bus lane.

About 40 traffic policemen were on duty on the Welikada to Ayurveda junction.

Kumarage said from about 8 to 10 for example, about 100 to buses carried over 3000 people or more, while all other vehicles also carried similar amounts of less.





The bus lanes are to be implemented on three lane road in the capital.

Traffic police said despite one lane being reserved for buses, all other vehicles on the road had speeded up, simply because drivers had followed lane discipline.

Kumarage said the information collected would be used to develop a bus lane from Battaramulla to Colombo Fort.

Sri Lanka’s bus lane development project is also getting advice from Korean experts who have implemented such a system in their capital Seoul.

Bus lanes were also found in London and Jakarta.

Jakarta has bad traffic despite the Trans Jakarta bus rapid transit system, and is one of few East Asian capitals withthout a mass transit system.

Both Seoul and London have mass rapid transit systems in addition to BRT.

Sri Lanka’s car and motor cycle owners – except politicians and state workers who get tax free or tax slashed cars – pay massive taxes on cars, which goes to to finance annual investments in roads.  Petrol car owners also pay large taxes.

Politicians who go in diesel SUVs get subsidized or low taxed diesel. (Colombo/Mar15/2017)

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