An efficient public transport service is vital for a country to improve the productivity of its citizens. Bus shelters for commuters waiting for the buses also play an important role because they provide shade to them.
However, we know from experience that commuters do not have the comfort of a bus shelter on most bus routes. Who is responsible for this oversight or failure?
To find this out, we obtained data for the fiscal year 2022 from the Passenger Transport Authority through an Information request under the Right to Information Act.
These data show that while the government had not proposed any new projects to construct bus shelters in the fiscal year 2022, Divisional Secretariats of Minuwangoda, Katana, Negambo, Divulapitiya, Wattala, Avissawella, Ratmalana and Kalutara had initiated 27 projects to construct bus shelters under the “Gama Samaga Pilisandarak” programme in 2022.
Estimates had been prepared and vouchers issued to the Divisional Secretariats to pay a 20% advance to constructors.
However, National Budget Circular No. 03/2022 issued by the Ministry of Finance on April 26, 2022, had called for the suspension of such projects to cut down state expenditure in the wake of the economic crisis. As a result, the projects to build bus shelters in the fiscal year 2022 have not been implemented so far.
In the response to our information request related to Wellawatte, Narahenpita, Kirulapone, and the bus stops along route number 141, it was mentioned that bus shelters had already been installed near Narahenpita where Route No. 141 buses start, and near the Kirulapone police station, but there was not enough space to construct a bus shelter at Wellawatte.
When commuters are being hit by high transport costs amid the unprecedented economic crisis, it is unfortunate that whatever little comforts they expect at public amenities such as bus shelters are denied to them.