News

SLTB, SLRD facilitate office commute: Public transport operations planned

  • Only 25 passengers per bus
  • Railways allow only pre-booked seating

By Sarah Hannan

Public transport services will commence in areas where the curfew is lifted tomorrow, while the Western Province’s and the Puttalam District’s service will be provided to anyone reporting to work.

Minister of Passenger Transport Management, Power, and Energy Mahinda Amaraweera, speaking to The Sunday Morning, said that transport facilities will be exclusively provided for the workforce that is reporting to work and any personnel required for essential services.

“It will take a bit more time for the transport system to function at a regular pace. For now, we will only have SLTB buses functioning on the bus routes, while SLR will cater to personnel who have pre-booked seats and have been allocated seats on the train services.”

Amaraweera further stated that other passengers will not be allowed to board the buses or trains under any circumstance. He also stressed that the Lanka Private Bus Owners Association had requested to at least allow them to have passengers to fill the seats.

“Due to health and safety reasons, we cannot allow that request and buses and train carriages are only supposed to take half the possible seating capacity to maintain social distancing. Once the Health Ministry approves this, the public will have access to private buses as well.”

The SLTB and SLR will schedule buses and trains accordingly in the respective routes to enable the commute to and from work.

SLTB buses will operate at regular office times in the morning from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and in the evening from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in order to facilitate travelling both ways.

“Each bus will only allow a maximum of 25 passengers at a time. We request the public to adhere to the health guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health. In addition to that, SLTB officers will be deployed to main bus stops to monitor passenger movement and ensure the buses only carry the stipulated number of passengers,” SLTB Deputy General Manager of Operations H.A. Pandula said.

While prior reservations are not required to utilise the bus services, the SLTB urges the public to limit unnecessary travel for their own safety. Buses will be deployed in the Western Province and the Puttalam District to enable travel for people reporting to work in the state and private sector even if the curfew is in effect, Pandula reiterated.

Meanwhile, the SLR stated that nearly 3,000 commuters had already booked seats on scheduled train services that would be arriving in Colombo tomorrow (11).

“We have made arrangements to send the seat details and the schedule time of arrival in the respective train stations to the commuters through SMS. Only those who have reserved seats will be allowed to board the train,” SLR General Manager M.J.D. Fernando said.

Accordingly, commuters will be allowed on to the platforms after the SMS has been checked at the entrance of the respective railway station.

Fernando further stated that only a limited number of 50 persons can enter the railway carriage and passengers are prohibited from sitting in the seats other than the car seat assigned to them.

In addition, the SLR has also taken steps to deploy Army personnel to all compartments to prevent unloaded passengers. The general manager said that attention will also be focused on speeding the train service from the station to Colombo Fort.