Ashok Abeysinghe

State Minister Abeysinghe on the right track about passenger transport


As of now, the number of passengers travelling by train is about 400,000… In [bus] passenger transport, the private sector does about 75%, and SLTB buses do 25%.

Divaina | June 24, 2019



Fact Check

On 24 June 2019, Divaina reported State Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Ashok Abeysinghe making the following claims:

  1. The number of passengers travelling by train is about 400,000.
  2. 75% of passenger bus transport is done by the private sector and 25% is done in Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) buses

The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation Performance Report for 2018 (TCAPR) and statistics from the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (MTCA) website are the sources used for this factcheck.

Passenger travel is usually reported daily or annually. With regard to the first claim, annual figures for rail transport have been over 100,000 million for the last several years (TCAPR). Therefore, it is likely that the minister is referring to a daily figure. The number of passengers who travelled by train in 2018 was 137.51 million (TCAPR). This means the daily average of passengers in 2018 was 376,740. The same statistic has also been reported as 367,000 passengers a day in an alternative source (MTCA). The minister has reported the rounded off figure of “about 400,000.”

With regard to the second claim, Exhibit 1 (MTCA) shows that from 2016 to 2018, the average of 23.03% of passenger transport was carried out by SLTB buses and 76.97% by private buses. The minister has reported the rounded off figures of 25% and 75%.

Therefore, we classify the minister’s claims as TRUE.


Exhibit 1: Passenger bus transport 2016 – 2018 (million passenger kilometers)

*FactCheck’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck will revisit the assessment.

Further explanation of measurements used

A passenger kilometer is a unit of measurement representing the transport of one passenger over one kilometer. Using number of passengers as a measurement unit for total passenger transport does not distinguish between a passenger traveling a short distance and a long distance. Additionally, using distance traveled as a unit does not account for how many passengers are being transported. Passenger kilometers, however, takes both these issues into account, and is therefore, the appropriate unit of measure to use when measuring total passenger transport.