Colombo - Post Report Question and Answers
Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Local buses are all private, which means that they are all competing for riders. Buses are old, drivers go too fast, and we are advised against using them. In-country trains are considered nice, but we've never taken one. "Regular" taxis are hailed through Uber, PickMe, Kangaroo Cab, and others. You can use an app to call a tuk tuk or hail one yourself. Tuk tuks usually overcharge foreigners. But that usually means paying about $1.50 for a ride instead of $.50. - Sep 2020
Buses can be dangerous and we are discouraged from riding them. Tuk-tuks are everywhere and affordable. Taxis generally take the form of Ubers and Pick-Me (an Uber competitor); rates are low. Trains are popular with Sri Lankan commuters and international tourists. They are cheap, but can be slow and crowded. - Apr 2020
We are here without a car. I don't recommend using the local bus - they're dangerous. Trains are really cheap but are very very basic - like standing room and no AC unless you reserve ahead of time for first class - but those are more for longer trips not everyday use. Uber is here and is affordable, there is also another Uber-like taxi service called Pick me and then there are Tuk Tuks. They're cheap and readily available. - Sep 2017
Taxis are great and reliable, especially for longer distances in town, like the airport or out to the overseas school. However, tuk-tuks are definitely the way to do for cheap, short distances! They are a little crazy, but if you know the price for various distances, you won't be taken. It can cost .25-50 for short, < 2 km rides or maybe $1 for a few km.
The train should be taken at some point, either to Galle or Kandy, although it is not a speedy, super clean affair. - Mar 2017
Trains/taxi's/tuk tuks are safe and affordable. Buses are dangerous and I'm not sure the bus drivers are even qualified to drive. It seems like a deadly race between the drivers most days. Everyone must yield to the buses to stay safe! - Sep 2013
All are affordable, but safety is an issue. I wouldn't travel on a bus if my life depended on it. Trains are dirty, erratic and crowded. No comfort whatsoever. Negotiate with tri-shaws before getting in - - - although many now are metered. There has been a huge influx of small mini-taxis ---all metered--- in main towns. Good value. - Sep 2012
The buses are very dangerous because of the crazy driving and because of pick-pockets (with knives).The trains are better, but we weren't permitted to ride at night. The local taxi services are safer as they have seat belts, however they are very unreliable. Trishaws (tuk-tuks) are very dangerous, but extremely convenient. A taxi costs less than a tuk-tuk though. - Dec 2011
Taxis are very safe and very affordable. Buses and trains also safe if you don't mind standing and are familiar with the jump-off-while-driving technique. - Feb 2010
Taxis and tuk-tuks safe (unless you're in a tuk-tuk and hit broadside). Trains and public buses are currently off limits to U.S. Embassy mission personnel due to random bombings. - Sep 2008
Trains and buses are very cheap but rather basic. Expats are recommended to avoid buses and trains because of security concerns. - Feb 2008