Following the island-wide strike launched by the private bus operators last Friday (2), the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) has commenced moves to revamp the existing fleet of buses by next year to address the current issues prevalent in the public transportation system.
Accordingly, the plan includes the importation of at least 1000 buses which would be included in the existing system.
“We will not increase the fleet. These buses will only replace the old buses,” Deputy Minister of Transport Ashok Abeysinghe said. He stated that 10.5 million Sri Lankans opted for public transportation modes out of which 2.5 million used the SLTB buses.
“Right now we have 5500 buses in our fleet. If we increase, then the private operators would be affected. We are working on a scheme that would not affect either party,” he said.
SLTB Chairman, Ramal Siriwardene commenting on the SLTB bus fleet said that 1,000 buses in irreparable condition will be replaced by 1,000 new two-door 44-seaters. Another 250 smaller buses will be added to the fleet to ply mountainous areas in the Central, Sabaragamuwa and Uva. “In addition 500 buses in need of repair will be replaced with new engines,” said Siriwardene.
Tenders have already been called and agreements already signed for this purpose. Siriwardene said that the process is already off the ground and the replacements will be incorporated into the fleet within the next 12 months.
“The objective is to maintain the recommended 60 per cent to 40 per cent ratio of private and SLTB buses respectively,” said Siriwardene.