Sunday, April 12, 2009

Park and Ride in Colombo

The ‘Park and Ride’ service began its operation 15-03-09 with just two passengers taking the service that was operated from Katubedde to Fort.

However, the Manager of the Park and Ride complex, Mr. Sarath Gunawardene said it was too early to assess the service from the first day and he expected to have a better response after a month.

At present the service operates from 6.30 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. on weekdays. A minimum of 6 buses would operate, leaving at 30-minute intervals.

The service is an attempt to reduce the traffic congestion and number of vehicles in Colombo according to plans set out by the Mahinda Chinhanaya.

“This is an extremely convenient service and it will really pick up within a month as people will become more accustomed to the idea,” said Chairman of the National Transport Commission Prof. Amal Kumarage who was at the ‘Park and Ride’ complex last morning.

“This is a very convenient service to the people and we have made the buses extremely comfortable for them, since most persons using their own vehicles desire this comfort,” said the Manager of the complex Mr. Sarath Gunawardene. “This service also eliminates the hassle of having to drive in the congested streets all the way to Colombo and I am confident that many will utilise this service in the months to come,” he further added.

Although many are critical whether the person would actually trade in the convenience and comfort of their private vehicles, the National Transport Commission seems confident the scheme would succeed.

“Many people think that this is only for the talking and will not get off the ground. However, as soon as people come to know about it they will realise this is a reliable service.

Thus to build the confidence of the people we will operate with a few people for at least a month,” said Mr. Kumarage. “When this picks up we will have buses leaving every 10-minute for the added convenience of the people,” he further said.

Mr. Gunawardene elaborated on the other luxurious elements that will be incorporated into the service. “Right now we provide magazines and newspapers, but in future we hope to provide soft drinks and the like at a nominal fee,” he stated.

The luxury 20-seat coaches would travel from Katubedde to Kollupitiya Junction, Dharmapala Mawatha and then proceed to Piththala Junction. The buses would then cross Nawam Mawatha at Slave Island and go past Air Force HQ to York Street ending up near the Clock Tower in Pettah. Returning, the bus would take the Duplication Road route up to Bambalapitiya.

The service is aimed at mainly those who were using their own vehicles and the awareness among the general public was very low.

Persons standing at the bus halt right opposite the complex were absolutely oblivious to the service.

“I really don’t know what it is. I just saw the sign and it seems easier to use the bus than take that service,” said an elderly lady.

ECD Global (PVT) Ltd., the transport providers for Sri Lankan Airlines conducts the service under the direction of the National Transport Commission.

Declared open under the patronage of Minister of Transport Dallas Alahapperuma the service cost an initial sum of 10 million rupees.

The complex of one acre was paved and lit using sky lights with the facilities of toilets.