The continued failure to implement a countrywide joint timetable for Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) buses and private buses is continuing to cause problems in the transport sector, Chairman of the Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) Gemunu Wijeratne charged.

Speaking to The Nation, Wijeratne stated competition among buses was fierce because of this matter and it was also contributing to accidents as buses race each other along busy roads. While a joint timetable has been implemented in certain provinces, it has still not been implemented everywhere, including in the Western Province, while long distance buses also don’t run according to a joint timetable.

Wijeratne said last Thursday’s (August 6) incident where a traffic policeman was run-over and killed by a private bus at Galle Face in Colombo was also in part due to this competition between buses.

“From what I know, CCTV cameras have captured the bus driver driving along the left hand side of the road towards the pavement. This incident was entirely the driver’s fault. But if a joint timetable was in place, such incidents would be minimal as there wouldn’t be this level of competition”.

When queried as to why such a timetable has still not seen the light of day, Wijeratne said neither the Sri Lanka Transport Commission (NTC) nor the Western Province Road Passenger Transport Authority (WPRPTA) was interested.

When contacted, WPRPTA General Manager Gunasoma Wanniarachchi said implementing a joint timetable was a massive undertaking that required much discussion based on supply and demand. He said implementing it was also problematic as the SLTB was reluctant to run on a joint timetable with private buses on some roads.

However, SLTB Chairman Ramal Siriwardena said discussions were held even last month with the National Transport Commission and other stakeholders with regards to implementing a joint timetable countrywide, but implementation had been put off till after the August 17 General Election. “Buses already run on a joint timetable in provinces such as Uva and the North Central Province,” he noted, stating that he was hopeful that such a timetable could be expanded soon.