The Government is planning a series of measures at improving public transport usage as a solution for easing traffic congestion within Colombo and the Western province.

An official at the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry said as an immediate measure, plans are afoot to increase the public transport usage currently at 52 per cent in the Western Province (WP) to 60 per cent. Consultant to the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry and Senior Lecturer of Civil Engineering Department of the Moratuwa University Dr. Dimantha de Silva said a feasibility study has been initiated with foreign help to identify railway corridors that could be established with the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system.

“Out of the 52 per cent who use public transport, only four per cent travel by train. But, in the corridors where there are railway facilities, around 40 per cent use the train as a mode of transportation.

“Therefore, development of the LRT where there is no railway system would bring a considerable reduction in the traffic congestion rather than developing a Bus Rapid Transit System,” he added.

Dr. de Silva said that under the directions of Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, plans are being made to construct integrated LRT sytems covering a considerable area in the Western Province. He added one would be around Colombo city from Kollupitiya, Pettah via Bambalapitiya, Borella, the BMICH, Slave Island, Eye Hospital and Gamini Hall.

Another will be constructed from Maradana to Mattakkuliya via Kotahena. Another from Bambalapitiya to Kirulapona and to Dematagoda.

Another two lines would be constructed to Kottawa and Kaduwela from Malambe while another would be constructed from Armour Street to Kadawatha via Kiribathgoda.

Meanwhile, Project Director of the JICA supported LRT project Chaminda Ariyadasa said the loan agreement for the construction of the LRT line from Malambe to Fort (Separate line from Union place to Kollupitiya) would be signed next year if the feasibility report gets the green light.

He added the Malambe-Fort LRT would run via Battaramulla, Rajagiriya, Borella, Eye Hospital and Gamini Hall.

He added that the loan would be a soft loan from JICA of which the loan interest rate would be 0.1 percent.

Ariyadasa also added that the country also would receive a 10 year grace period following the completion of the project for repayments. He said when completed travel time between Malabe – Fort or Malabe – Kollupitiya could be reduced to less than 30 minutes. Meanwhile, a passenger ferry service using the canal network in and around Colombo too will come into effect in order to minimise traffic congestion. 

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