Monday, December 24, 2012

Why are we burdening the commuters, when in fact we should assist them?



I note with trepidation that a substantial increase in bus fares is expected on Valentines Day 2013, to take account of a delayed price hike due to fuel price increases and other increases in running costs, but most especially the hike by the Govt. departments and authorities, in the price of a bus transfer, a route permit, and the charge for a log sheet. Remember the private buses additionally pay money to time keepers and protection money too, estimated by the private bus organization at Rs70M a day, all of which are transferred in the end to the commuter.

The hapless long suffering commuter and bus traveler is yet again bearing the brunt of the increase in charges faced by the bus operators. I did hear a while ago that the Transport Authorities wish to color code public transport, so that light blue will signify private buses, and red the State Service, whilst another color would be used for school vans and such like. If this is enforced, the commuter will bear the cost eventually. Is that fair?

As a matter of public policy, we MUST encourage the use of public transport at the expense of other forms, and we have seen an explosion in the number of motorbikes, and three wheelers in the morning commute. This is due to the costs of transport, and inconvenience, has turned more passengers to seek alternative means, thereby adding to congestion and travel times.

Competition improves service, and more buses reduce overcrowding especially during the rush hours. A crying need that must be addressed is the absence of night buses which are sorely lacking, inconveniencing the shift workers, who have to use more expensive means of transport to and from work in the off hours. The authorities instead of piling on more charges must seek to reduce the burden on private bus operators, while getting their commitment to stop overcrowding in the interests of the commuter and improving their service standards that appear to be a bone of contention.

The public cost of longer commutes and waiting in traffic jams are immeasurable. A transportation policy where the commuter’s burden is reduced so that more traffic will move from private modes to public, freeing up valuable space on the morning commute, should be the priority. The current approach is plain WRONG, to burden the commuters further, driving more into private transport, especially the ubiquitous motorbike that has trebled in quantity on the morning commute leading to aggravated delays.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

one thing you didn't mention that i think deserves mention is the noise pollution and dangerous conditions of public transport (busses in particular). these need to be dealt with quickly as they make life around the transportation unpleasant.

public transport should be priortized as the transport option of choice since the traffic in colombo makes life miserable, and the public transport providers (busses) need to be more disciplined.

it's not rocket science to get the transport system up to where it needs to be. rather than making ad hoc changes based on the intuition of administrators, the authority in charge of public transport needs to do some urgent market research to base future improvements upon. Once the system is improved accordingly it will take off. They need to urgently find out:

1. why the public that currently uses public transport uses it;

2. why the public that does not use public transport does not use it;

3. how can the public transport be made more attractive to those that do not use it; and

4. how can public transport be made more attractive to those that currently use it.

Anonymous said...

color-coding the busses is a great idea and an urgent improvement which can be made. your opposition to the government seems to blind you in some cases of good improvements which you are trying to turn into bad ones!! exercise caution in your criticism lest your readers will find your comments incredible!

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