Premium bus service for private vehicle users under consideration
The National Transport Commission (NTC) is exploring the possibility of introducing a premium bus service for private vehicle users especially private car users entering the Colombo city and suburbs. The Chairman of the Commission Amal S. Kumarage told The Sunday Times FT that their aim is to minimize traffic congestion, save fuel consumption and reduce air pollution.
The Commission intends to design this Premium Bus Service as a personalized and reliable service with special features and comforts, he said. He added that the country’s annual fuel cost is Rs. 230 billion and the annual congestion cost in the city of Colombo and suburbs is around Rs. 20 billion.
He added that their target is to reduce the number of private vehicles entering the city of Colombo from 200,000 to 150,000 by the year 2010.
He said that reducing this massive traffic congestion by at least 50,000 will improve traffic speed by 50 percent and reduce air pollution by half. He disclosed that 32 percent of people are using private vehicles because of the convenience and privacy and the premium bus service will be devised to cater their needs under the Strategic Action Plan for Traffic Management.
The Supreme Court recently directed the National Transport Commission to implement a Strategic Action Plan for Traffic Management within three months and report the progress of initial implementation on June 23, he said . The court gave this directive after considering a petition with regard to the air pollution in the city.
In order to assess the requirements of the prospective users and the demand for a premium bus service of this nature, the National Transport Commission is conducting a questionnaire survey among private sector organizations, where a high percentage of employees are using private vehicles.
The questionnaire says the NTC is in the process of developing a Strategic Plan for traffic management in the Greater Colombo area to alleviate the traffic congestion and environment pollution, and currently focusing on some options such as; re-planning of bus routes, developing Multi-modal transport centers with park and ride facilities, introducing flexible working hours for both government and private organizations and addressing the issues relating to the traffic generated due to Colombo port and port related activities.