Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg and Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna, together with Chairman of Malta Public Transport Felipe Cosmen, addressed a press conference where they announced an investment in the public transport service that will lead to an increase in the frequency on certain public transport routes, as well as in the number of buses in the fleet.

Minister Borg explained how the current fleet of 405 vehicles will now have a further 30 buses, which increase will lead to an increase in the frequencies of certain routes. Together with the 30 buses, a further 10 buses from the current fleet will be substituted with new ones. Minister Borg said that these 40 buses are more efficient and have low emissions. He explained that this investment will help to service 4 million passengers per year or 11,000 passengers on a daily basis during peak hours. This investment also means that trips will increase by a further 66,000 trips per year and a further 1.17 million kilometres annually.

The Minister reminded those present that the public transport is very important for our country, serving as an alternative means of moving from one place to another. It also forms part of the holistic plan that the Government put in place in order to address the congestion and traffic issues. In fact, the Government is taking different actions so as to enable the use of such a service to grow. “We started with the reform of the public transport service, moved on to the initiative that offers free public transport to youths and now we are further strengthening all this with the investment in routes and in the new buses, with the latter amounting to Euros 9 million,” said the Minister.

This service has seen massive increases over a number of years with the year 2018 being a record year with 53.5 million passengers, and the first six months of this year already totalling 26.5 million passengers, an increase of 1.5 million passengers over the same period of last year.

“Thus what we are announcing today is important � these numbers are showing us that public transport is meeting the people’s demands and therefore it is important that we putting more efforts in order to improve efficiency further, for the benefit of the commuters. Certain routes which are more popular than others will be addressed through the investment through an increase in the number of trips � something that before we could not do without the necessary investment in capacity. We must remember that the increase in the use of this means of transport leads to a reduced dependency on the private vehicle,” explained Minister Borg.

He concluded by thanking Malta Public Transport and Transport Malta that worked together with the Government in order to enable this important positive development, whilst thanking all the bus drivers that are on the Maltese roads daily in order to deliver this important service to the people, whilst he said that, “all those using this service are helping the Government in its efforts to promote alternative transport and for this I thank them.”

During the press conference, Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna remarked that free public transport for youths is leading towards a culture change and in mentality towards public transport.

“In the coming budget, there shall be a marginal increase in the Public Service Obligation so that such financial assistance will add more frequency in certain routes which although they are not profitable, they address social needs. This ensures that public transport would meet society’s needs.”

The Minister remarked that through these measures, the Government is investing in future generations in order for them to opt for public transport. Such a change is leading towards a better quality of life both in terms of expenditure on transportation as well as in the reduction of emissions.

Chairman of Malta Public Transport Felipe Cosmen spoke about how the public transport is always evolving and that in this day and age people have different travelling options. He said that it was important for the entity to use its international experience in the transport sector in order to adapt certain systems to a country like Malta. Mr Cosmen spoke about how public transport remains one of the most efficient means of transport whilst being one of the best means on of reducing the use of the private vehicles and thus this means becomes even one that helps the environment.

“In the last four years, we have invested in 211 buses that are EURO 6 and today we are continuing to invest in a further 40 buses so that we have a newer fleet, that pollutes less and that has full accessibility,” said Mr Cosmen. “We are happy with the Government’s decision to continue investing in more frequencies and with the improvement in the connectivity so that we will have a better service,” said the Chairman. He concluded by thanking all the workers for their dedication and energy in achieving these important results, as well as all those that use the bus service on a daily basis.

Source: Office of the Prime Minister