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Sri Lanka hikes bus fares by 20-pct as Covid-19 alert limits passenger carriage

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has raised bus fares 20 percent as passenger carriage was limited to the number of seats as required by health rules, to counter the spread of Coronavirus, officials said.

State Minister of Transport Services Dilum Amunugama said the minimum amount will be increased by 1.2 (20 percent) from November 11 onwards.

If buses are to carry one passenger for two seats 1.5 quantum or 50 percent fare increase would be made.

“The National Transport Commission has permitted this under the new Covid 19 transporting policy yesterday,” Minister Amunugama told reporters.

Amunugama said according to the health authorities’ guidelines the transportation services are been advised to transport people under the Alert Level 2 of Covid 19.

“Therefore, if the transport carry passenger according to the number of seats 1.2 times the current fare will be added to the fare,” Amunugama said.

“Under the alert level three if the transport is provided for only 50 percent of the available seats or according to the alternate seating then they can charge 1.5 percent of the fare with the current fare.”

Though the country is at Alert Level 03 according to the health ministry, buses are still allowed to carry up to all available seats.

Under the new bus fares the minimum fare will be increased from 12.00 rupees to 14 rupees, 14 rupees to 17.00 rupees, 19.00 rupees to 23.00 rupees and the maximum will be increased to 473.00 rupees to 567.00 rupees.

“For semi-luxury business under the Alert Level 2 we have given permission to add 1.2 percent of the fare to the current fare,” Amunugama said. “There are a limited number of buses in the luxury category and for them 1.1 percent of the fare will be added to the current fare.”

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Semi-luxury buses (no air condition but has curtains) already has a higher tariff, despite not offering additional value addition such as air-condition.

Passenger associations have called for their abolition saying the buses are charging high prices while having dusty and dirty curtains and uncomfortable seats.

Meanwhile the Minister of Transport Gamini Lokuge said due to the Covid 19 situation in the country some relief is being given to private bus operators.

“With the Covid 19 and imposing of curfew we faced lots of difficulties regarding transportation,” Lokuge said.

“Therefore, Permit license, late fare, tender fee, entrance fee and other fares will not be applicable for the next six months.

And we are working on giving them a grace period of six months for their leasing repayments as well.”(Colombo/ Nov 11/ 2020)

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