Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What happened to the Night Bus Service that there was such a hoo haa about?

Those of us who work all hours, and keep the engine of the economy running had occasion to be greatly assisted by the night bus service that the Government with a lot of fanfare publicized about 3 months ago. When I work late in the heart of Fort sometimes till 9pm, I have no way of getting home, short of walking the deserted streets which I have done. For a fearless walker like me having to risk my life over the uneven pavements full of potholes and obstacles is foolhardy. Not muggers, drug addicts or inebriated Security Forces personnel do I fear. It takes me a brisk 40 minute walk to get to the flat I rent. How about to Malabe, Athurugiriya, or God forbid, Godagama where my farm is, there is absolutely no hope of going.

Further for passengers taking the intercity night buses or arriving from outstations, there is no relief, having to wait till 5.30am for the buses to start again. When I take the 2am bus to Minneriya, at what time should I get to the Gunasinghapura bus stand? Unless I have a generous friend who is willing to drop me at 1am I can’t even attempt this journey. I am therefore still waiting for this to commence.

Another case of “it has been conveniently forgotten”!! Rational people do not believe a word that is said in the media, especially as it concerns an agent of the Government making a proclamation. It will never happen, and at best if it does happen it will be very temporary, as the sustainability is not thought through.

So let us agitate again for this. Forget the state bus service. Allow private operators to do this with a fare that is double the normal fare for those boarding a bus from 6.30pm onwards to 5.30am. Then set up a once every half hour or once an hour service depending on the route, having regard to load factors etc. If there are no takers, give me 20 route permits, and I will organize the whole of Colombo night bus service, but no bribes to any officials please!! I will take the credit for setting it up and I will also have my nominee vying for the Mayor of Colombo.

It is so irrational to have to pay four times more for me to take a three wheeler to travel the 3km to the Pettah private bus stand than it costs me to go to Minneriya from there. So my suggestion is a no brainer and if we are to take Colombo city to being a 24 hour vibrant hub that is a vital ingredient to the much hyped growth.

The resources of the city are so underutilized because of the fact that except for the wealthy, the place is out of bounds for the average citizen to enjoy its beauty and vibrancy that would be enhanced by such action, spawning a further set of businesses and entertainment for the masses in one place. It is important therefore to lift the price controls on public transport for at least the hours I have suggested.

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