Multi colours, extra horns, loud music banned in private buses
- About 6,000 private buses operate on 475 bus routes in the Western Province
- multi-coloured private buses sporting colourful stickers had been involved in several accidents
- any bus driver driving under the influence of liquor or drugs will see his driving license being suspended
Public transportation in Sri Lanka is widespread that the majority of people prefer to make it their mode of travel. Apart from the people’s habit to travel in trains, they often choose the bus as a mode of transport. However, there has been criticism regarding buses in terms excessive speed, extra horns, competition among buses and sound systems that produce loud noise, etc. It is the commuters who feel inconvenienced and uncomfortable as a result of these practices. People have raised their voices against these types of acts, but their attempts have been often sent into oblivion.
The Western Province Road Passenger Transport Authority took steps to ban additional items such as stickers, paintings, sound systems and extra horns in the private buses operating in the Western Province from April 1. The Authority also highlighted that it was compulsory to paint private buses in blue.
About 6,000 private buses operate on 475 bus routes in the Western Province which are administered by 56 bus terminals.
We are also in the position to say that the buses should be maintained in their original colour. We are opposed to buses sporting unnecessary items like stickers and multi colours
Unauthorised items in private buses to be banned
Speaking to the Dailymirror , Road Passenger Transport Authority Chairman Thusitha Kularatne said that they would provide a grace period of three months from April 1 for bus owners to remove all unauthorised items other than those approved by the Department of Motor Traffic.
“Private buses can be easily identified if they have a distinct colour. The blue colour is chosen as it is pleasing to the eye and would reduce road accidents to some extent,” Kularatne said.
He added that multi-coloured private buses sporting colourful stickers had been involved in several accidents, because the attention of other bus drivers was drawn to these items.
“It’s mandatory for bus owners to maintain the original colour which is decided during the registration. If they are to alter the colour of the vehicle, they have to obtain an endorsement from the Motor Traffic Commissioner General.
“If they are not ready to obtain the approval, they should take immediate steps to remove all muti-coloured stickers within the grace period and maintain the colour prescribed at the registration.
He said they would have to take legal action if they did not follow these regulations.
Private buses can be easily identified if they have a distinct colour. The blue colour is chosen as it is pleasing to the eye and would reduce road accidents to some extent
Kularatne said that they had informed bus owners to remove all extra horns and additional sound systems which inconvenienced the people.
“If travelling conditions are not up to the standards of a passenger transport bus, certain items must be added and some should be removed,” he stressed.
“It is the responsibility of the bus owners to attend to these issues and they should make sure that they have fulfilled the requirements,” Kularatne said. He added that after the grace period, legal action would be taken against those violating the laws. The penalty might be the cancelling or suspending of route permits.
Meanwhile, he stressed that these actions were taken under existing laws conferred on the Authority. He added that they had not made any new laws regarding this.
Suspending of license and drunk driving
Kularatne said that they as the authority had received several complaints from the public that some bus drivers used to drive under the influence of liquor or drugs.
“Thus, we have launched a special inspection programme from April 1 as to check whether there are drunk bus drivers,” he said
“We don’t believe that there are such drivers, but still we should give heed to the commuters’ call because they are the ones who witness such acts after travelling in them,” he added.
However, Kularatne said that if they found any bus driver under the influence of liquor or drugs, his driving license would be suspended.
Meanwhile, he opined that they had provided the officials of their service centres with instructions as to how they should support the move initiated by the President to eradicate drugs from the society.
Hotline to report misconduct
The Road Passenger Transport Authority has introduced a hotline (0112860860) which is available 24 hours so as to help people lodge complaints regarding shortcomings in the passenger transport service in the Western Province. Those who wish to complain can now forward their grievances and suggest how the Authority should upgrade the passenger transport. “We are taking all measures considering the safety of commuters. Hence, we are not hesitant to take any action against anything that challenges the safety of the people,” Kularatne added.
He said it was essential to have a suitable environment for passengers to travel in private buses in the Western Province.
The Authority has no legal right to carry out the move: Private bus owners
Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) President Gemunu Wijeratne told the Dailymirror that the Road Passenger Transport Authority has no authority to carry out legislation over colouring of buses and added that according to the Motor Traffic Act, the authority is vested with Department of the Motor Traffic (DMT).
“We are also in the position to say that the buses should be maintained in their original colour. We are opposed to buses sporting unnecessary items like stickers and multi colours,” Wijeratne said.
“We will support the move if this is properly carried out by the DMT and the Police,” he said.
“The Road Passenger Transport Authority has nothing to do with regard to taking legal actions. The duties of the Authority are to prepare time tables, renovate bus terminals, check route permits and tickets,” he added.
He said that there has been an oversight on the part of the Authority regarding what it is supposed to do. More things to be done before implementing moveWijeratne said that there are some serious issues that need to be addressed immediately before implementing this move.
“The main issue faced by us is extortion. This is done by the time keepers at bus terminals. Perhaps, bus drivers and conductors are threatened and blackmailed by these persons involved in extortion,” Wijeratne said.
“The Road Passenger Transport Authority has the capacity and the legal right to cease extortion, but they do not attend to this,” he added.
He said that another issue was that there were no proper time tables for buses. The Authority doesn’t follow a due process when issuing tickets.
“Infrastructure facilities around bus terminals should be upgraded,” Wijeratne said.
Meanwhile, he said that the public transport service had been ruined as a result of tactics used by the Road Passenger Transport Authority.
Warned of TU actions
LPBOA President said thatt they had warned the Authority that they would resort to trade union action and abstain from bus service if the Authority acts according to its whims and fancies.
“We have no issue if this move is undertaken by the Central Government. Besides, the Authority should understand its due role before poking its nose into others’ businesses,” he added.
Never allow to implement this move: Private Bus Association
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Private Bus Association (ACPBA) Secretary Anjana Priyanjith said that this was a move merely implemented to fulfill political ambitions by means of private bus service.
“We are totally against this move because there are more things to be done before making this move. The authorities should conduct training programmes for the bus drivers and conductors and also attend to deficiencies in the transport service,” he said.
“We will not paint our buses in blue and the buses in the Western Province will remain in their existing colours,” Priyanjith said.
In addition, he said that the Road Passenger Transport Authority had no right to take legal actions against private companies like them.
Responding to the question asked regarding the extra horns in the buses, the Secretary said that there would be a discussion regarding the matter at the Ministry of Defence on April 5.
When the Dailymirror questioned people and several bus drivers and conductors regarding the move, the majority were positive about the move. While saying it was a positive move, Sanath Ekanayake from Wadduwa added that the Government should introduce, a unique colour (such as yellow) for three-wheel taxis as well.
Carmeline Ranawaka from Seeduwa said that it was an effective move and she hoped the driver and conductor would be given uniforms like in many developed countries.
Christy Paranawitana said that he fully agreed with the move and added that they should stop playing music in the buses.Upul Ratnayake from Dehiwala said that there were more prominent things to be completed in the public transport service.
“I agree with this move, but the attention of the authorities should be paid to uplifting passenger facilities in public transportation,” he said. Rizvan Farhan from Slave Island said that it would be a fantastic decision if the rules are implemented properly.
We are totally against this move because there are more things to be done before making this move. The authorities should conduct training programmes for the bus drivers and conductors and also attend to deficiencies in the transport service
Farhan added that there should be a discipline code applicable for the bus drivers in the public transport service. Primal Peiris said that the authorities should check the bad driving habits of bus drivers. “Some drivers drive talking using mobile telephones,. They don’t know driving manners - making the passengers, specially the old people, very uncomfortable. The authorities should do random checking and punish them,” he added.
Bus drivers’ comment
Sarath Nishantha, a driver using the 138 route bus (Homagama – Pettah) told Dailymirror that he did not see anything effective in the move to ask them to change the colour of buses to blue.
“The matter is not with the colour, but with the system. There are no strict laws in public transportation which have created chaos in the sector. The law is restricted to a book,” he said.
When asked about the loud music in buses, Nishantha said that it is sometimes a headache for them too and added it should be done in a better way. Tharaka Nayanajeewa, the conductor in a bus operating on the 176 route bus (Karagampitiya Hettiyawatta) said that if the authorities maintain that they will stick to this move, they have to adhere to it.
Wasantha Thisera, the bus driver using the 240 route bus (Colombo – Negombo), said that the matter didn’t concern them because they were not very much concerned about the colour of the bus.
Michael Fernando, the conductor of a bus using the 04 route (Colombo-Chilaw) said that they were in agreement with the move, but added that much remained to be done with regard to the transport service.
In conclusion, it is worthy to note that this move is effective as far executing it. Once this comes into effect in three months times, the authorities should conduct weekly inspections to make sure the law is followed. Otherwise, this would become just another move taken by the Government.