Colombo traffic. Nawam Perahera is coming up.
This week the Sri Lankan Police have been stopping cars to conduct a survey on traffic. Colombo actually has far less traffic than many global cities, but it’s still not good. So what to do? The survey created more traffic and was only in Sinhala, but it’s a start. There are a few obvious answers already on the table.
Right now drivers pay for their car, insurance and petrol. They don’t pay for their (or other peoples) time. They just waste it. The obvious thing is for drivers to pay to get less congestion.
But the roads should be free you say. Well, most people use the roads to get to work, where they are paid for their time. An extra half hour on the road is time they’re not at work, which has a value. In addition, money gained from these tolls can be put back into improving the roads and public transport. I honestly don’t see a problem with this system at all.
You can exclude buses and taxis, encouraging that sort of transport within the city, and just charge personal vehicles coming in and out. Time is money, and I don’t see this as a net loss for anybody.
Another obvious looking thing is to use existing rail and bus routes to drastically improve public transport, encouraging the middle class to use it. Colombo cannot yet support real mass transit, but I don’t see why incremental improvements can’t happen. I saw dozens of shiny new buses parked on the Galle Face Green a year ago but I have yet to see such numbers on the streets.
And those are a few ideas.