Gozo ferry time-table
THE new winter Gozo Channel timetable is affecting many people badly. The main sore point is the two-hour 15-minute and two-hour 45-minute gaps respectively before the last two evening ferry trips.
On the other hand it is very good that the 12.15 a.m./1 a.m. trip has been retained as it allows people who finish whatever they are doing late to get back home. This is also good for people coming from abroad as it means they are not stranded if their flight lands at around midnight.
It would not be that costly for Gozo Channel to insert an additional trip or two in the evening, thus reducing waiting time to a more reasonable figure. By adding just one trip the gap can be reduced to not more than one hour 30 minutes until 11 p.m. and then two hours until 1 a.m.
The main additional expense to Gozo Channel would be the fuel for a round trip, which the chairman said costs around Lm100. The ship's crew and harbour personnel are still lying on duty, so why not utilise them?
Two additional trips can make the timetable very reasonable.
Throughout the summer, and on most days in winter, the ferries are full or nearly full with cars and passengers. Gozo Channel rakes in a lot of money. Surely some of this income can be used to supplement a few additional trips in the evening for the convenience of Gozitan commuters, Maltese visitors, traders and tourists.
We have all seen the long queues for the ferry even when it was operating a shuttle service, and not just on Santa Marija. Where does all the money go? Remember each of those cars is paying Lm5.75 or Lm2.30, and each Maltese passenger is paying Lm1.75.
Gozo Channel's position as the sole provider of sea transport between the two islands means it is morally and legally bound to provide a reasonably convenient and frequent service. Restricting that service means that Gozo will be more isolated, to the detriment of all. This means going beyond the reasoning of operating only those trips which are profitable and discarding those which are not.