Projects to streamline transport

Published : 9:32 am  March 21, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Thilanka Kanakarathna   
The Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development has launched a number of projects to streamline transport in Colombo in partnership with several government bodies, propelled by expert knowledge provided by other countries.   

Following a thorough research process, the Ministry identified several key issues faced by pedestrians and motorists who entered Colombo. They have now initiated certain standard practices parallel to those used abroad to avoid inconveniences.   


Traffic congestion is now a global issue faced by both developed and developing countries. Colombo also experiences congestion, prompting officials to launch numerous projects to combat the problem.   

The average speed of a vehicle in Colombo is 10-12 kmph within the city limit. However, experts fear this would further drop to 4-5 kmph in 2020, which means officials have less than three years to find a viable solution.   

On a side note, a recent census showed that 150-180 buses travelled towards Colombo Fort from Battaramulla during rush hours from 7am – 9am and again at 4.30 pm.   


The priority lane project was launched by the Ministry last week to reduce congestion within Colombo. The project was launched in partnership with the KOICA, a Korean-based institution entrusted with the task of designing models for different areas of Colombo which vary in road and traffic conditions.   

The pilot project was launched in Rajagiriya last week (12-19 March). As it was identified that the heavy number of vehicles entering Colombo was the causefor the increasing congestion, the “priority lane” concept for buses in Rajagiriya was implemented as a means of decreasing the number of car users. The project was supported by officials of the ministry, the Motor Traffic Department, KOICA, the Police Department, the Moratuwa University, private and public bus operators and other stakeholders.   

Initial results of the project point to a vast improvement in traffic in the area.


The plan was to reduce the number of cars and give priority to passenger buses 

DIG Traffic Palitha Fernando

“We have deployed around 40 traffic police officers for a successful pilot project. This was a better move that should be appreciated.    The project was launched over a period of one week. During the first day, we too faced difficulties, however we were able to overcome these later on. 

The plan was to reduce the number of cars and give priority to passenger buses.    To minimize the traffic congestion, we have to reduce the number of vehicles moving towards the city. The project has made considerable improvements. We believe this practice should be carried out further.”    Meanwhile, the Megapolis Ministry said the project which was introduced as a solution to the heavy traffic congestion in Colombo, and which was conducted as a trial version for a period of one week, is now being considered for long-term implementation.   

“After analyzing the data received by the research and following the experts’ views, the ministry is planning to implement different models under the same concept for the roads experiencing heavy congestion,” officials said.   

In the meantime, Minister Ranawaka said that parallel to the project, the ministry had focused attention on uplifting the city’s transport service and requested the Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala to add comfortable buses to the SLTB to attract the public and depreciate private vehicle usage.    


We are trying to implement the practice in Colombo and its suburbs 

Chairman, Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association, Gemunu Wijerathne



I proposed this solution about one and a half years ago and it was submitted before the Ministry of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs. We discussed the proposal with all related parties and knew this concept could become a reality.   

Today we have proved that this is a positive effort. We have received the bus drivers’ comments and they say it should be enacted as soon as possible.

 We are trying to implement the practice in Colombo and its suburbs.   We have decided to send low-flow buses to city transport. The condition of buses will be upgraded in line with this priority lane project. We hope passengers will opt to use public transport instead of private vehicles.     


The speed of passenger buses have increased from 9.5 kmph to 21 kmph

Minister of Megapolis and Western Development, Patali Champika Ranawaka 


CITY--DM-6-8“The separate lane for buses operating during the past week in Rajagiriya is a success and will likely be continued.   
The ministry has paid attention to the deep traffic in Colombo and introduced several measures to resolve the matter. The priority lane pilot project for buses launched to reduce traffic had a good outcome.   

Statistics show that the speed of passenger buses had increased from 9.5 kmph to 21 kmph during the operation of this project. It has helped other vehicles to increase speed as well.” 


Prioritizing particular vehicles is simple, speedy and cost-effective

Moratuwa University Prof. Amal Kumarage

“Even though we cannot reduce traffic at large, we can control it. The main problem we see in Colombo is that a large number of private vehicles enter the city each day, creating heavy congestion. We could make new roads but it will cost millions and take some time. Prioritizing particular vehicles is simple, speedy and cost-effective.   

Presently, this method is in practice in Europe and Korea. We launched this method as a pilot project to study the progress. During the past week, we learned what areas we should improve on. Overall we think the practice can be adopted in Colombo and will have results.   

We have only initiated the priority lane for buses. It could be different in other parts of Colombo considering the cause of traffic on each road. There is an ongoing study planning different models for different roads. These will become a reality under the ministry soon. This is a small step that began from a series of projects. There will be more upgrades adding to the original concept. However, I’m happy to say that this has been a successful effort.”