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How to improve efficiency of existing transportation system in Colombo Area?

What is the use of developed and attractive buildings if the access to them is not as pleasing as they
look??- Being one of the major cities in Sri Lanka, Colombo is the commercial industrial capital of
the country. It is a busy vibrant place with a mixture of modern life and many colonial buildings and a
large road network. Due to this nature of this city trip attractions are fairly high which leads to a traffic
congestion in the peak hours with 275000 vehicles entering the city daily today which would be
increased in the future. So in order to manage the balance between the increasing attractions and the
access to them, an improvement in the efficiency of the existing road network is needed.
Reducing the travel time, avoiding unnecessary delay, ensuring the safety of the users, improving the
mobility and accessibility to different places in the city are some of the areas would help to improve
the efficiency of the existing transportation system. In order to achieve these following factors such as
transport planning, implementing new modes, improving the driver skills, updating the existing
infrastructure, safety improvement and traffic management can be taken into consideration.
Under transport planning firstly a full study is needed on the existing transportation network
prevailing in Colombo, the expected demand increment in the future, the areas that are more congested
and the number of accidents occurred inside Colombo area categorized by the vehicle type, area and
the reason. With these information by identifying the needed changes and solutions for the problems
alternative solutions must be planned and evaluated.
To reduce the travel time the speed of arriving to the destination should be increased. With the
increased traffic congestion it is hard to achieve through road networks. So development of new
modes such as Light Rail Transit, Mass Rapid Transit, and Monorail can be implemented and where
an already decision on the 1st phase of implementation of mono rail system has been proposed from
the Fort Railway station to Battaramulla for 10km to be completed around 2020. Though this will
increase the speed of travel the accessibility will
be low so to eliminate that integrated bus
systems are also proposed. Buses take a large
space in the road and move in a slow speed, so
they are constraints to the other light vehicles to
move speedily. It can be seen that around 20% of
the vehicles entering Colombo are buses. To
overcome this problem Sri Lanka can also
undertake the implementation of straddling bus
(Giant Street buses which run through solar
power and let other vehicles go through it) just like China did. This would be a cost efficient option
and would also solve the issue of traffic.

It can be seen that most of the existing roads in Colombo have no more than three lanes per side except
expressways and the baseline road. Comparing with the number of vehicles circulating inside Colombo
area it seems that this is not enough and it should be further developed into more lanes per side. Also
the condition of the roads is a biggest issue for the vehicles not even achieving the speed that they are
allowed to in deserted roads. These show that there is lot of development needed to the existing
infrastructure firstly before moving into any mass development. Many expressways are being
proposed and constructed in Sri Lanka currently such as the Colombo-Katunayake expressway and the
outer circle expressway which are also seen to be a solution to improving the speed and reducing the
travel time. Also by implementing new Hub and spoke system outside Colombo, the long trip buses
can be integrated with other route buses and trains which will reduce the number of vehicles entering
Colombo.
Another important factor that should be looked at in order to ensure safety and a discipline way of
travel is the skills of driver. Some of the vehicles specially three wheelers and motor cycles cut from
one side to the other side while driving which causes accidents and also makes to the other drivers hard
to drive. Drivers should be made to drive in a structured manner and not to disturb other drivers. This
can be achieved by giving training and education on the way of driving to the drivers at the time of
obtaining license.
Improving safety is also an essential part in achieving efficient transportation. . Speeding is the main
factor for accidents so to limit the drivers from speeding the existing spot fine system does not seem to
be effective. So instead of this, new point system can be implemented which would result in
suspension of the license for one year if the points obtained by a driver exceed 24. Hopefully this will
create fear among the drivers of losing their license and will force them to go within the speed limits.
Also introducing more one way roads will reduce the chances for accidents and improve safety.
According to the statistics it can be seen that pedestrians are also a cause for the accidents incurring.
So to overcome this flyover or underground pedestrian crossing can be constructed. Or else traffic
lights can be implemented in the pedestrian crossings also a side pavement with large width can be
constructed for the walkway of pedestrians and they can be also fined if they disobey the rules.
It is essential to have a proper traffic management in order to achieve the improved efficiency in
transportation system effectively. In order to reduce the traffic in Colombo, the vehicles entering
Colombo city should be minimized. For that some methods which other countries use can be adapted
such as charging toll for the vehicles entering the city with low number of passengers, electronic road
pricing system, restricting the vehicle ownership per person and also increase the tax for vehicles.
Other ways such as integration of different networks, dynamic lane allocation, ensuring usage of all
roads equally, updating traffic light and road signs can also be considered, to manage the traffic
without reducing the number of vehicles entering Colombo.

There can be no development without negatively impacting the society and environment. But it is
important to consider the social environmental and equity factors and the ways to minimize the
negative effects when taking decisions to improve the efficiency of existing transportation system.
Developing new modes as said above will need a high initial cost and also the civilians in Colombo are
not exposed to such transportation systems so there would be resistance so those should be
compromised. Also developing new road networks would need a huge area of land so there will be a
need to resettle people or to undertake deforestation which will result in social and environmental
issues. Also when constructing expressways the ground water level would have to be disturbed and any
construction process will create air pollution and increased noise levels and vibrations which would be
a nuisance to the nearby civilians. These effects and ways to mitigate them should be considered. Also
before implementing any project it is recommended to do a feasibility study on the financial,
ecological, social and technical areas.
If the above discussed things are brought into effect then the dream of having an efficient, effective
and sustainable transportation system in Colombo area will come true.