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Sri Lanka mulls smart cards, GPS for public transport

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s new government is working to improve public transport as a viable alternative to private cars and considering technology like smart cards for payment and satellite positioning for time tables, a minister said.

“Public transportation in Sri Lanka is entirely out-dated and needs to undergo genuine modernization as soon as possible,” said Eran Wickramaratne, Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development.

“The previous government poured in millions to building second and third ports and airports yet failed to make life better for the ordinary man who takes an overcrowded bus or goes on an overcrowded train to work everyday.”

A seemingly simple improvement could be the introduction of a timetable according to which public transport runs, Wickramaratne told the Colombo Mayor’s Conference.

“By installing GPS systems on buses, the public could keep track of their routes, arrival times and estimated time to destination,” he said.

This would save people anxiety over bus delays and avoid wasting time, he told the forum organised by the Colombo Municipal Council to mark its 150th anniversary.

“People should no longer have to stand waiting, often in monsoonal times such as what we are experiencing now, for buses to come at times that they can only just guess.”

Use of smart cards for payment for transport could also help improve mobility in the city.

“In some Asian cities you use smart cards as an integrated system to pay for transportation,” Wickramaratne said. “Why cannot this not be introduced in Colombo over the next 5-year period?”

Wickramaratne said the government is exploring investing in metro systems as in cities like Bangkok, which allows for speedy journeys for those living in the outstations.





“This expands access to human capital for employers, increasing job possibilities for those in the job market.”
 (Colombo/December 14, 2015)

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