There are private buses on the Southern Expressway. I noticed because the bus smelled slightly more of fried food. And because a friend asked. On the plus side, the in-drive entertainment was WAY better than the usual blasting music show, and they gave a customer satisfaction survey, shown above. I remain impressed with the new bus culture.
Traditional Sri Lankan bus culture is retarded. First the government regulates fares down to a subsistence level, even if the market can pay to not suffer. So you get ancient, uncomfortable and often dangerous buses that can only compete on volume and speed. They wait forever so they can fill up, and they often fill up to slave-ship levels. I’ve seen people passing out and nearly suffocating. Then they go at stupid speeds. They blast terrible music to keep the driver awake, which makes it hard for everybody else to sleep. Then they stop for shitty tea and food even on a three hour trip. It sucks.
The personal culture has also warped to reflect. People lock their legs wide open for that extra inch of space. Girls get harassed on the regular. Bus drivers drive like sociopaths at worst, assholes at best. It’s ugly.
On the Expressway buses, however, the government (and now companies) provide a decent service and people behave like decent citizens. It’s such a relief, and it makes public transport tolerable for the general public again, meaning women, children, people who’ve reached a comfortable level in their lives even if they can’t afford a car. I hope the new culture spreads and the old culture dies. Customer service forms on a bus, for example. Wow.
Note: People keep asking me. To take the Expressway Bus just show up at the Maharagama Bus Stand at :45 of any hour between 7 and 7. You should be able to walk on to a bus. It’s a tourist coach and looks different. The Bus Stand is where the Maharagama road (from Nugegoda) forks in two).