The Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) has been directed to embark on additional revenue generation ventures such as vehicle repairs and modifications for the public and private sector institutions making maximum use of available resources as an immediate solution to its poor financial situation.
The state-owned bus company is running at a severe loss and currently it has to seek Rs. 1 billion from the Treasury to survive till the end of this year, Transport Ministry sources said.
The SLTB has incurred a loss of Rs. 484 million this year so far as a result of mobility restrictions and country-wide lock downs imposed due to COVID-19, Finance Ministry data shows.
Several proposals have been made at a high level meeting to make SLTB a profitable enterprise by devising a modern public transport and rapid transit plan and programmes based on the government’s investment programme in Budget 2022.
A suggestion has been made to engage efficient motor mechanics numbering 4500 and workers of SLTB bus workshops in private and public vehicle repairs in addition to their normal duty by undertaking revenue generating contracts, a high official of the Transport Ministry said.
Preliminary measures have been initiated to undertake repairs of the damaged vehicles of state corporations and public sector institutions to the SLTB – instead of them going to private garages.
In addition to repairing buses and cars it will manufacture the seats, seat cushion covers and cushion for buses, manufacture spare nuts, and paint buses and cars, he added. Similarly, it will maintain a mobile service to repair vehicles for breakdowns on roads, he said.
One of the proposals made at the meeting was to expedite the park and drive system enabling public and private sector officials using vehicles for office travel daily by introducing convenient luxury bus services from places where they park their cars.
Passengers are facilitated to park their cars in Makumbura Multimodal Transport Centre Vehicle Park, Kottawa free of charge and following the examination of the progress of the programme, the space allocated for the cars is expected to be expanded.
School bus services will also be strengthened with a bus fleet painted with yellow colour while private and public passenger transport buses will be painted with two different colours.
Providing incentives for SLTB employees, minimising waste and corruption, improving efficiency and making maximum use of unutilised lands owned by the board by leasing it out to investors for development were among the other proposals discussed at the meeting.
The review of current conditions will examine public transport routes and passenger demand, fare structures, ticketing systems, fleet conditions, subsidies and financial viability, and operational service standards.
Surveys on bus speed and attitudes of customers will be carried out for the assessment of future urban transportation needs, and identification of improvements to public transport needed to address these needs.