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Results of surveys among drivers and customers of for-hire three-wheelers in five small towns in Sri Lanka


  • A.K. Somasundaraswaran

    (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka)


Ownership of three-wheelers, a mode of paratransit, is rapidly increasing in Sri Lanka. Results of a survey among drivers and customers of for-hire three-wheelers are analysed in the present paper, which has direct policy relevance for policymakers and urban planners in Asian developing countries. Two sets of questionnaires were employed to examine the characteristics and perceptions of for-hire three-wheeler drivers and customers. Ability to own (affordability) and flexible employment conditions emerged as the top reasons for the rapid increase. The emergence of three-wheeler services is largely attributable to inadequate public transport services in small towns. Users report that a three-wheeler reduces travel time, increases comfort, makes it easy to reach the destination, facilitates day-to-day activities, and serves well in an emergency situation. However, the results reveal, among other things, that about 35.8 per cent of the drivers had had an accident in the 12-month period prior to the survey, 56 per cent had less than two years of driving experience, and 92.8 per cent had driven under the influence of alcohol. During the day, the most serious problems are the non-allocation of a stand or a lack of parking in crowded areas, and frequent attacks by gangsters. At night, problems include inadequate street lights and being called on for use in unlawful activities. Nevertheless, considering the employment it generates and the valuable services it provides, this industry continues to grow and operate in Sri Lanka, especially in small towns.

Suggested Citation

  • A.K. Somasundaraswaran, 2008. "Results of surveys among drivers and customers of for-hire three-wheelers in five small towns in Sri Lanka," Asia-Pacific Development Journal, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), vol. 15(1), pages 119-135, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:unt:jnapdj:v:15:y:2008:i:1:p:119-135

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    More about this item


    Three-wheeler; Sri Lanka; paratransit; tuk-tuk;

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General


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