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Prepaid bus cards soon:

Bus travellers hassles to wane - Minister C.B. Ratnayake

 

Moves are underway to introduce prepaid cards for bus passengers. Various problems regarding the issue of tickets in private buses can be solved after the introduction of the new system. The GPS technology will operate from November 1 to monitor private buses. Steps have been taken to issue permits on new routes, Private Transport Minister C.B. Ratnayake said in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

Q: Can you tell us about the Sisu Seriya, Gem Seriya and Nisi Seriya bus services?

A: The Sisu Seriya bus service is operated for school children, while the Nisi Seriya is the night service and the Gem Seriya bus service is operated on new routes.

Under the Sisu Seriya service, school children are provided transport facilities on a concessionary basis. The National Transport Commission (NTC) pays Rs. 500,000 per year to buses which are engaged in night service.

Because of the number of passengers travelling in the night are low, this payment is made to private buses to prevent losses by operating at night and to carry out a smooth service. This service is monitored by the Authorities and payment will be made only for buses which operate a smooth service.

Q: Can you elaborate the steps being taken by the transport Ministry to regulate the bus service on the highway?

A: Special regulations have been implemented to regulate bus service on the highway. Only super luxury buses are permitted to operate on the highway.

These buses are selected on a scoring basis. Those who obtain a high score are given the opportunity to operate a service on the highway.

This mechanism will help to provide opportunities even for the ordinary people. If tenders are called, the ordinary people will lose the opportunity to operate on the highway. A reasonable amount of money should be paid to the NTC by bus operators.

Certain buses operate on the highway and other main routes including the A9 without permits. In this case, the influence of bribe takers are high. Discussions are being held with the Secretary of the Ministry of Highways to prevent such bus operations. A separate lane will be given to passenger transport buses which operate on the highway. Officers will be deployed to check whether buses operating on the highway have permits.

Q: Bus conductors manning private buses should issue tickets to passengers, but certain buses do not issue tickets. Some do not give change. What steps can be taken to prevent this?

A: Earlier we had some problems in introducing the prepaid card for passengers. Now steps have been taken to introduce prepaid cards. After introducing the prepaid card system a solution can be found to these problems. Those who get prepaid cards can get their cards recharged after the credit is over.

Q: Coaches showing video are in service in various parts of the country. Certain buses use high volume and relay music or have the radio on. What steps can be taken to prevent such activities?

A: We have given a maximum volume to limit buses from playing cassette recorders or operating radio stations. Nobody can exceed that limit. We plan to impose a fine on buses which use cassette recorders or radios where the volume exceeds the said amount. Three thousand one hundred buses which operate between the provinces come under my control. Over 18,700 buses are supervised by the Provincial Council Governments. We have sent a circular to Provincial Councils to be followed by private buses. The circular should be implemented by the Provincial Councils. We plan to monitor the private bus operation using GPS technology. Necessary steps will be taken to arrest those who violate regulations.

Q: You have introduced a program to develop bus terminals across the country. Can you elaborate?

A: When the roads and cities are developed, bus terminals should also be developed.

We have taken steps to develop bus terminals across the country spending a large amount of money. Many bus terminals across the country have already been developed and some are in the process of being developed now.


Buses are a common mode of transport for students

Thirukkovil, Panama and the Pulmude bus terminals in the Eastern province have already been developed. The Vavuniya bus terminal is being developed at a cost of Rs. 110 million. In line with the Deyata Kirula national development exhibition 2014 Habaraduwa, Akuressa Lunugamwehera and Walasmulla bus terminals will be developed. Foundation stones will be laid for these projects next month.

Q: Can you tell us about the joint time table system?

A joint time table for CTB and private buses operated for some time earlier but due to various reasons they did not stick to the schedule. Arrangements have now been made to relaunch this time table.

The joint timetable system should be introduced. The general transport service doesn't implement joint time schedule. Now it has become a problem.

Now we have requested them ask to refrain from operating new services before the introduction of a joint timetable for the CTB and private buses.

We hope to hold a discussion with the Transport Minister by October 2. When we held discussions with the Minister, certain Trade Unions oppose.However we are ready to implement the joint timetable that will benefit the people.

Q: Can you tell us the steps being taken to improve the transport service to the North and East?

A: Steps have been taken to deploy more buses to areas in the North that were liberated in the last stages of the war against terrorism.A large number of buses are operating without route permits.

We have the numbers of those buses. Measures has been taken to give them permits to regulate the transport service to the North and East and improve transport facilities to those areas. When we hold discussions some do not support it.

We will issue permits by paying the required payment to the NTC.

CCTV Cameras have been set up linking the Bastian Silva Mawatha bus terminal and the National Transport Commission. The activities of buses operating from the Bastian Silva Mawatha bus terminal are monitored by the NTC.


Passengers stand in a crowded bus

Q: What steps will the Ministry take if a passenger suffers humiliation at the hands of private bus conductors or drivers?

A:People affected by bus conductors or drivers in buses plying along the inter-provincial routes, can complain over the hot line 1924 or at the NTC. If any inconvenience is caused to passengers in private buses, they can complain to the Authorities in the relevant Provincial Councils. If a solution is not found, the affected passenger can complain to the Ministry or over hot line 0716550000 or over Skype on privatetransportservices.

Q: Can you tell us about the victory of the Uva Provincial Council election?

A: People have voted for the UPFA and the UNP. The UNP going by these results believe they cn return to power. But that will never take place.

People are confident that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only leader who is capable of developing this country while improving the livelihood of people. During the tenure of the President a large number of major livelihood and infrastructure development projects have been implemented across the country. I express my gratitude to the people who voted for the victory of the UPFA.

Q: The UNP plans to put forward a common candidate in the coming Presidential election. Will it cause any drop in the vote base of the UPFA?

A: Never, The Opposition has no power to bring a common candidate in the forthcoming Presidential election. They won't join for a common candidate. The alligned parties of the UPFA has taken the required moves to face a future election. I believe that the Opposition has no other power to do so. The JVP will have its own candidate and the UNP too will have its own candidate. The coming presidential election will not be a challenge to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Q: The services of private buses are important. Can you tell us the privileges given to private bus operators?

A: We have given various concessions to private bus operators through the Budget and the Treasury. We also hope to make a change in the price formula. Tax relief has been given to buy buses for private sector bus operators. In the future also we plan to give certain concessions to

private bus operators.

Q: There are semi luxury, luxury and normal buses. Those days luxury buses were available in all parts of the country. The number of luxury buses have decreased in the recent past while the number of semi luxury buses are increasing daily. The facilities in these buses are poor. What kind of steps can be taken to regulate this service?

A: We are to take decision with regard to these services. There are regulations for semi luxury service. Due to a lack of staff, monitoring semi luxury buses has become a problem. To overcome this shortcoming we have identified buses with a certain colour. Passengers could complain to take action against them by notifying the relevant authorities. Semi luxury buses are used for night service and during peak hours. We are ready to solve this issue by holding discussion with bus companies.

Q: Do you have any plan to increase the number of private buses?

A: No, plans are drafted to give permits on new routes. Roads which were in dilapidated condition have been carpeted. A large stretch of road has been concreted. For instance there are a number of routes leading to Anuradhapura. New permits will be given to operators on these routes.

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