S Mitric

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, economics - pricing, organisation - regulation, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - rail


Urban transportation, Strategies, Strategic planning, Social service, Regulation, Rapid transit, Private sector, Private enterprise, Priorities, Pricing, Poverty, Poor people, Objectives, Markets, Low income groups, Low income families, Intracity transportation, Intracity bus transportation, Intergovernmental relations, Heavy rail transit, Government transportation, Goals, Funding, Financing, Colombo (Sri Lanka), Bus transit


International sharing of urban transport experiences may be beneficial for practice and help give form to a concept of strategy. Main problems and issues of urban transport in Colombo, Sri Lanka, were identified, and a strategy was proposed for improving the performance of the transport system for travelers and its impacts on urban development. On the streets of Colombo, buses compete for scarce space with passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and vans. Crossing bicycle riders and pedestrians have an even more difficult time. Privately operated buses dominate the passenger market, complemented by three public-sector operators, the survivors of several waves of reorganizations and reforms. Both groups of operators suffer from having to charge low fares and from increasing street congestion, but private operators freely manage their staff and vehicles and do not follow prescribed routes, stops, and frequencies. Strategic issues involve the pricing of services in the presence of two distinct markets (low-income travelers and those who own or aspire to own a vehicle) and two inconsistent regulatory regimes, the absence of reserved street space for public transport vehicles, and intergovernmental relations concerning jurisdiction and funding for urban transport modes. Pivotal propositions involve redefining the government role as regulator of public transport services; using the social assistance system to help low-income travelers (thus liberating fare making); upgrading the suburban lines of Sri Lanka Railways into a separate, high-quality, regional rapid transit network; and adopting a regionally oriented road pricing and financing system.