You wouldn’t expect a bus stand in Sri Lanka to be like a mini airport. But if you happen to go to Negombo Bus Stand, renamed as “Negombo Bus Terminal,” it is a little airport. It has almost all the facilities needed in a modern day bus stand. It is considered Sri Lanka’s best bus stand in terms of facilities. Other town council members in Sri Lanka visit this place to learn as to how a new bus stand should be built.
Construction of the bus terminal began in 2008, but had to be stopped halfway due to lack of funds. Mr. Nimal Lanza, Provincial Minister for Transport and Highways was the one who initiated the project and he came under heavy criticism by the opposition and the public alike as the existing main Negombo bus stand was inadequate and sub-standard. It was a mud hole during the rainy season and a dust bowl during the dry season.
Mr. Lanza negotiated with the central government to get released the Rs. 60 million required to complete the complex. Later Ministry of Economic Development also chipped in with more funds. The modern Negombo Bus Terminal Complex was constructed at a cost of Rs. 230 million. The venture has been funded jointly by the Ministry of Economic Development and the Negombo Municipal Council. Construction of this 3 storied Bus Terminal Complex was resumed in June 2010. It was declared open in November 2011.
The terminal has a space of 60,000 sq. ft. There is a cinema theater in the top floor. But it is not open as a cinema yet. There are 78 trade stalls, resting and waiting halls, toilets for the public and the employees of trade stalls. Still there are vacant stalls which means the business in here hasn’t caught up well yet. Maybe the facilities came too early before the city was ready for it.
There is an elevator, and flat screen displays showing times of arrivals and departures of buses, as you see flights schedules shown in the airports. Unfortunately these digital displays will not give you the latest and correct information. The reason is that though the Negombo Bus Terminal requested all depots to send them updated time schedules of buses it doesn’t happen always as desired.
Nearly 35,000 passengers are using this bus stand daily. More than 500 private and CTB buses are handled by the terminal. The complex serves thousands of commuters and hundreds of tourists who visit the resort town throughout the year.
Nowhere else in the island will you find such a multi-level, multi-purpose facility. The terminal is well staffed and efficiently serviced. The complex is well maintained, with cleaning, maintenance and security contracts offered to private companies. But there are problems as the users don’t know how to use modern facilities. There are small messages pasted in toilets and water fountains instructing how to use them properly. But according to Sri Lankan standards, the place is clean.
The Bus Terminal Complex of Negombo is one of the best bus stands in Sri Lanka and it comprises unprecedented ultra-modern architectural features, state-of-the art facilities and multiple facilities for passengers and public. It serves bus routes both close range and long distance connecting with some of major destinations like Colombo, Kandy, Kurunegala, Kegalle, Ratnapura, Avissawella, Mannar, Kalpitiya, Tangalle, Kekirawa, Hatton, Balangoda, Kataragama, Kuliyapitiya, Chilaw, Ja-Ela, etc.