Government urged to issue guidelines for public transport

The Government has been urged to issue guidelines for all forms of public transport prior to commencing transportation with specific attention on overcrowding.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce submitted a proposal to the Government on how to manage passenger transport safely as the Government considers exit strategies from the current curfew status.

The working paper was formulated by the Sub Committee on Passenger Transport of the National Agenda Committee (NAC) of Logistics and Transport.

The proposal examines establishing a plan in case of future lockdowns, along with the necessity of people’s movement for a swift and safe restoration of normalcy.

The working paper notes that with the announcement of recommencing schools and universities, it is prudent that a sound public transportation plan is prepared and announced to enable the country to function in the realities of a post COVID-19 environment.

This would require reducing the total number of entrants especially during the peak hours into cities like Colombo in the first few weeks with gradual plans to ramp it up based on the progression achieved while minimizing the rate of infection.

The Government has been urged to issue guidelines for all forms of transport operations prior to commencing transportation with specific attention on overcrowding and the practice of health guidelines with the coordination of the relevant health officials.

It has also been proposed that a mechanism to ensure there is demand reductions in the peak period be introduced. This can set the guidelines on the number of people working in an establishment, the opening and closing time of office hours (including public services) and the introduction of flexible hours / work from home.

The Government has been urged to encourage buses and trains to operate at marginal cost recovery. Given that less passengers per bus or train will result in less revenue for public transport operators at least initially, it has been proposed to establish a special mechanism to enable minimal reimbursement considering the prevailing low global oil prices.

“This is an opportune moment to transform the public sector transportation system and use digital public transport operation platforms to facilitate its transformation to a modern and world class service seen in many countries and cities the world over,” the proposal states.

Endorsing the actions taken by health authorities in suppressing the spread of the virus, the Chamber notes that the next step is to devise exit strategies and revive the economy. Taking this into consideration, the Chamber hopes that the submission made will be taken into consideration when formulating policies to move ahead. The Working Paper would be revised as required based on the changing situation.

Please find the full report here.