ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has cut fees charged from privately owned buses ply on expressways allowing fares to be brought down, Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.
The National Transport Commission had charged a fee of 1.29 million rupees a year from each bus running on the Colombo-Matara expressway. The fee had gone up to 3.3 million rupees a year in 2022 after hikes in fares.
In a discriminatory move, buses owned by the members of the public were charged fees, but state buses were going free.
A recent hike in fares after the collapse in the rupee from 200 to 360 to the US had led to a drop in passengers, on top difficulties seen during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“The majority of the buses are owned by the private sector and these owners incur a massive operating cost, because of the low demand,” Minister Gunawardana said.
“There were 140 buses running in the Matara –Kottawa route, but only 60-70 buses are operating now. There is more than 50 percent drop,”
“There are 28 buses operating from Galle to Kottawa, but now only 15 are working. The Transportation Board has 5 and all of them are operating. Private owners are saying the public is not using them.
A bus with 60 seats now only had around 30 to 40 people on a trip, further reducing the incomes of bus owners.
There 205 buses were operating from Kataragama, Matara and Galle to Kottawa, Kaduwela, Kadawatha, Colombo and Kandy through the expressway system
After considering a request from bus owners, the National Transportation Commission decided to reduce the technical fare back to the previous amount, by changing the formula used to calculate the fee.
The technical fare is determined by the capacity, number of operating days, the bus fare and the profit margin.
“If the capacity of the bus is 100, the formula will be calculated assuming only 50 percent is travelling,” Minister Gunawardana said.
“The days of operating was reduced to 200 from 300 and the profit margin reduced from 12 to 6 percent.
The benefit of the technical fee reduction will go to customers by reducing the bus fare by 10 percent, Gunewardana said. (Colombo/ Jan 05/2023)