Private bus owners urge fare hike
By Nabiya Vaffoor
Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) urged the Government to increase the minimum bus fare up to Rs 20 from 1 January 2022.
Speaking to Ceylon Today LPBOA Chairman Gemunu Wijeratne said the association will send the proposal to the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and the National Transport Commission, today (3).
He further emphasised that the Government will be provided one week to respond with their decision in regard to the proposal.
“Currently, the minimum bus fare is Rs 14. As a result of lockdowns and curfews 9,000 buses out of the 20,000 private buses have broken down. The Government has allocated Rs 1,200 millions to the SLTB which has only 4,000 buses to function. With 9,000 buses to repair, even we have need of funds to cover the expenses on repairs,” he added.
When Ceylon Today inquired about the recent statement of Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila alleging that nearly 25 per cent of the private buses run on kerosene instead of diesel, and bus owners blame the Government for importing low-quality diesel, Wijeratne complained the Government has no proper independent institution to check the quality of any type of fuel.
“It’s not us who use low-quality diesel or kerosene. It’s this Government which imports low-quality fuel and criticises us for using it. If so, they should have an Independent institution to check whether the fuel that was brought in to this country is up to international standards,” he added.
Wijeratne added that they could save a few thousands if the Government quickly commenced the Transport card system with the automated ticketing machine where they could replace conductors by using the machine.
“There are so many problems when it comes to paying the conductors during the lockdowns and curfews. Meanwhile, they are many cons because some conductors aren’t trustworthy enough with money and there are many other problems too,” he added.
Wijeratne further noted that if this automated ticketing system and the transportation card was introduced we could easily start operating private buses even during the pandemic without any problems.