Fooling everyone except for commuters (Highway bus economy part 2)

I was so excited when the bus service starts at Katunayake- Colombo Highway. Too much excited that  I end up writing a blog post about Highway bus journey. After continuously traveling for few month i felt like that post should be upgraded, because the situation on the highway drama is completely different from it was several months back!

Soon after Government starting running their new posh volvo buses in the highway Private intercity bus owners income went down like an arrow. In the end they wants to approach highway also, and they did! for a lower cost! While CTB bus chargers being Rs 130 Private AC buses start running on the highway for Rs 110/. First few days it was very neat. Conductors and drivers with uniforms , bus departure on time. With passengers or without passengers. But with the miracle of the Asia this only exists only for a week.

Private bus became usual private buses, In highway they take passengers in the foot board in intercity Rosa buses and of course door closed. I think our dear police officers don’t notice these or they actually do but don’t give a fuck ? Well i don’t know! But fine we all knew private buses had this history for long time in this miracle island. But soon after second miracle happen. CTB buses start talking standing passengers in highway buses, that also without tickets!! And i believe our officers don’t notice this also! This continues for months and non of the drivers or conductors give a fuck about their safety or passengers safety neither commuters care!

But who am i to complain?  Just a random bus commuter!

And suddenly week ago CTB buses change their bus fare to Rs 75! Lower than normal intercity bus. Everyone was like Whaaat the fuck.. even while i was working as journalist i always knew price hike is inevitable in Sri Lanka, public or private transport service it happens. And we understand. But reduce the price from 55 rupees! Well someone might say hey Miracle is happening in Sri Lanka. Too good to be true! but it did happen…

Next day when I’m watching TV i saw almost every government television channel shout out price reduce in Highway buses. It’s ok,  It’s ok to talk about it because they actually did it!

And after a lazy weekend at home I’m back in the road. Usual work trip for Colombo. I walk to Airport and get in to Highway bus and here Price is again back to Rs 130!! and reason? is nothing! Non of the  conductors know why price being increased again.

But no one shout in the Television again saying they changed the price again to normal amount. All the people in country except for the people who travel in highway public transport think that prices being reduced! That also from Rs 55/ But no one knows that miracle only exist for one week!

Highway bus economy!

Wasting nearly 5 hours on the road is  (was) a part of my daily routine. I’m a commuter who travel daily from Katunayake to Colombo. Daily. For 5 years I have continued this routine, and let me tell you, spending 5 hours on the road on a daily basis is not a joy. It was all the same for five years, until last week. But things have changed now. With the highway I can travel to Katunayakae from Peliyagoda within 15 minutes is 27+KMs and in 30 minutes from Peliyagoda to Pettah which is 7 KMs. But wait. I am not complaining. I still save more than 2 hours daily, which I used to spend on traveling.

Colombo-Katunayake-Expressway

Anyway, this post is not about my time or traveling. This is about one part of the society that is majorly affected  by the Highway buses in Katunayake, but everyone ignored. Including Media,Government as well as the people!

For the past 3 years or so I always traveled in normal intercity AC bus service, which operates between Katunayake and Colombo. To be honest, that bus service was a Mafia; especially for Foreign travelers. Let me tell you why. National Transport Board had approved a bus fair of 100 rupees in an AC bus that operates between Katunayake and Colombo. But they never took 100 from foreigners.  The minimum amount they charged from a foreign passenger was 200 rupees, and that was excluding baggage.They charged Rs 100 each for baggage. So yeah. As I said it was a Mafia!

But that’s not the interesting part. The distance from Colombo to Katunayake  is less than 35 kilometers. These guys took more than two hours to travel this distance! Always! Why? Because even though it’s an intercity bus, they load passengers up to foot-board. And yes it’s illegal. Half the time police stop them, and as usual, they bribe the police and get away. This has happened consecutively for the last 3 years.

And now Highway buses are here, which are operated by the Government. Let’s do a comparison:

                      Highway Bus                Intercity AC bus

Duration –   Less than 1 hour                    More than 2 hours

Charge    –     Rs 130                                       Rs 100

Condition    Super luxury                         Old Rosa AC buses.

Do the math. Which one you would go in?

Yes, now my daily routine has changed to highway buses. But this is not only about me. Almost 90% of the people who used to travel by old AC buses have now switched to highway buses. This fact puts the private bus guys in trouble. Recently, I went in normal AC bus because I wanted to get down from Wattala (which i can’t do using a highway bus). The Rosa bus had only 9 people! The bus driver was cursing everyone from the Chinese laborers  who were involved in the Highway construction to Minister of Transportation to Mahinda Rajapaksha.

In conclusion, Katunayake-Colombo normal AC bus owners are in an economic crisis now due to the new highway buses, and I don’t see anyway they are going to find a solution to that.

Yet, after what they have done in the past, I can’t decide whether to be happy or sad!

0773635055