Having fleets of red buses with cushioned seats – all subsidized by the tax payer – does not necessarily mean the commuter is satisfied or the bus service is good. Buses aplenty and seats assured may give the wrong impression of a good service.
Commuters who get on to an SLTB bus know they are in for a wild, rough ride, and that they will have to undergo all manner of physical discomfort. Those daily commutes can be exasperating, bone-rattling experiences.
The bus swings and sways and the passengers are shaken up and flung around as the driver races along; his foot is constantly on the accelerator, and every few seconds he stamps on the brakes, then takes off again like a rocket without any warning. The 72-mile ride from the hills to Colombo on an SLTB bus can be a truly nerve- racking experience.
Despite all the training these drivers get at the reputed SLTB’s Driver Training School, there is no disciplined driving. Behind-the-scenes surveillance by driver training school staff in civvies, assisted by depot road inspectors, should make a difference. The surprise element, when these officers check on the drivers, will ensure that drivers keep to the rules. This should be a long-term SLTB service project.