President discusses maintaining quality public transport services

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has highlighted the need to maintain more efficient and quality public transport services to attract passengers.

He was speaking at the President’s House in Colombo yesterday (9) on the progress review of the Ministry of Transport and Highways.

He said that the recent hike in fuel prices has severely inconvenienced the public and at the same time, there is a high demand for public transportation. Therefore, providing facilities would give relief to the people.

The need for a systematic supply of fuel to trains and buses was discussed at length during the meeting. It was also decided to take steps to supply fuel to private buses at night through the petrol stations owned by the Transport Board.

The President also decided to expand the Park & Drive system and reduce parking charges. He also advised to look into the possibility of providing parking facilities near selected railway stations.

It was also proposed to use the existing active timetable for SLTB and private buses for short-distance journeys.

Meanwhile, steps will be taken to launch new train services targeting office services and to increase the number of compartments for existing trains.

Amongst the matters discussed, it was agreed to resolve the salary issue of SLTB employees and to submit the relevant cabinet paper soon.

Further, a plan to lease the reserved lands owned by the Railway Department for food crops for a period of one year was proposed at the meeting.

Minister Bandula Gunawardena said that the Divisional Secretariats are planning to provide the relevant lands to the farmer societies at a very low tax rate.

By Tharaka Samman