Sri Lanka Transport Board
|Founded||1 January 1958, as Ceylon Transport Board|
|Headquarters||Narahenpita, Colombo, Sri Lanka|
|Service area||Sri Lanka|
|Hubs||Central Bus Station (CBS), Pettah, Colombo|
Between 1958 and 1978, the Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) was the nationalised enterprise which handled all public bus transport in Sri Lanka. At its peak, it was the largest omnibus company in the world — with about 7,000 buses and over 50,000 employees. With privatization in 1979, it underwent a period of decline. The present number of buses in the fleet is 4500.
First broken up into several regional boards, then into several companies, it was finally reconstituted as the Sri Lanka Transport Board in 2005.
The first motor omnibus in Sri Lanka was imported in 1907 and bus transport began in Sri Lanka as an owner-operated service. There was no regulation, so when more than one bus operated on a single route, there was a scramble for the load. By the mid-1930s, malpractices in pursuit of maximum profit began to compromise safety and comfort. The setting up of the limited liability omnibus companies by the British around 1940 was the first meaningful step in regularising public passenger transport in the country.
The Ratnam Survey in 1948, the Sansoni Survey in 1954 and the Jayaratna Perera Survey in 1956 studied the bus services in Sri Lanka and all recommended that the companies should be nationalised.
The history of Sri Lanka Transport Board goes back to 1 January 1958; at the time known as the Ceylon Transport Board (CTB). The inaugural trip of the CTB took the Prime Minister and the Transport and Works Minister Maithripala Senanayake on a maroon luxury Mercedes-Benz bus imported from Germany. The bus is still owned by the Nittambuwa Bus Depot.
At its peak, it was the largest omnibus company in the world — with about 7,000 buses and over 50,000 employees. With privatization in 1979, it underwent a period of decline. The creation of a single nationalised entity made possible long distance operations and running buses on a large number of rural routes.
First broken up into several regional boards, then into several companies, it was finally reconstituted as the Sri Lanka Transport Board in 2005. The move received bipartisan support in Parliament. It was hailed by the Joint Business Forum (J-Biz), which welcomed the revival of the CTB: this was one of the rare occasions on which the business community said a state bus service was better than privatised ventures.
SLTB serves both urban and rural routes. In many rural areas, it provides services in unprofitable areas that would be unattractive to private operators.
The road network in Colombo consists of radial links (or arterial routes), which link the city centre and district centres, and orbital links, which intersect the arterial routes; most bus routes run along the radial links without the benefit of dedicated bus lanes owing to the high volume of traffic at peak times. A BRT system for Colombo has been proposed, but has yet to be implemented.
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SLTB also serves many intercity routes. These routes connect many of the major population centres in the country.
As of January 2012, SLTB is the only bus operator on the Southern Expressway. It uses modern Lanka Ashok Leyland buses on the expressway to connect Galle with Maharagama. The buses operate every two hours.
The SLTB is currently expanding its fleet, by ordering new buses from Volvo The buses ordered have modern facilities, including low-floor design and air-conditioning. In July 2011, trial runs began in Colombo to gauge passengers' response to the new buses.
Most SLTB buses have a red livery and are easily recognisable.
The CTB originally painted its buses red and blue. The second-hand London Transport buses, which were the backbone of the fleet, just needed to be half-painted in blue, saving on costs. When aluminium bus bodies became the norm, large areas of the surface were left unpainted, with just red front and back and blue strips down the side, in order to save money.
The present SLTB logo returns to the 1970s symbols, but with 'SLTB' instead of 'CTB' in Roman lettering, with 'Sri' added to the Sinhala script and no change in the Tamil script.
SLTB buses compete with private buses throughout the country, as well as with rail services by Sri Lanka Railways.
Sri Lanka Transport Board has not integrated its services with other modes of transport, such as rail. Unlike transport systems in some other countries, Sri Lanka does not streamline ticketing between road and rail transport. Buses do not provide dedicated feeder-bus services to the railways, resulting in Commuter rail and buses acting as isolated systems in relation to each other. This creates a loss in efficiency.
- "Answer to rural area bus shortage". Daily News. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
- "Private buses and the CTB". LankaNewspapers.com. Retrieved 2 October 2005.
- "Sri Lanka Transport Board to import 2,000 single door buses for rural transportation". ColomboPage. 5 December 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
- "Transport in Colombo". Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet Publications. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
- Cader, Fathima Razik (23 January 2004). "One-way streets in Colombo". Daily News. The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
- Mushtaq, Munza (5 July 2006). "Sri Lanka to get a Bus Rapid Transit System courtesy Japan". Asian Tribune. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
- http://www.gobrt.org/BRTinAsia.pdf BRT Planned or Under Construction in Asia
- Perera, Chaminda (3 January 2012). "Toning Southern Expressway: Luxury bus service starts today". Ceylon Daily News. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
- "Sri Lanka Transport Board to get 100 new buses from India". ColomboPage. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- "SLTB to introduce luxury bus service soon". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- "Luxury bus, a boon to office workers". Sunday Observer. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- http://www.adb.org/Documents/Evaluation/CAPES/SRI/CAPE-SRI-Transport-Sector.pdf ADB Sector Paper. Sri Lanka Country Assistance Program Evaluation: Transport Sector. August 2007
- Aryadasa Ratnasinghe, 'The development of bus transport in Sri Lanka', Daily News, 12 October 2004.
- Chandra Edirisuriya, 'To mark landmark foreign participation in public transport in Sri Lanka : Annals of omnibus transport', Daily News, 18 December 2002.
- Dinesh Gunawardena, ‘Anil Moonesinghe - a political and managerial visionary’, Daily News, 8 Dec 2005.
- Editorial, 'Resurrecting the CTB', Sunday Observer, 27 March 2005.
- Jayantha Sri Nissanka and Ranga Jayasuriya, 'Resurrection of the SLTB', Sunday Observer, 2 October 2005.
- 'Private buses and the CTB', LankaNewspapers.com, 2 October 2005.
- R.W. Faulks, 'Sri Lanka transport history involved frequent change', BUSES INTERNATIONAL, August 2001.
- Special Correspondent, 'Paving the way for resurrection of CTB', Sunday Observer, 3 April 2005.
- 'Sri Lanka Transport Board to raise the bus fleet', Colombo Page, 4 July 2007.
- 'Battling iron-eating rats in the CTB', The Island, 4 September 2008.