A reply by the Public Transport Association (December 16) explained to an irate commuter that bus route 667 was not available to Sliema and Gzira residents needing to travel towards the university and that this had now been combined with the St Andrew's route.
After several letters had appeared in this paper complaining of the lack of such a service, which meant that university students from Sliema took an hour to travel first to Msida and then on to Tal-Qroqq, the PTA tried to accommodate commuters from St Andrew's and Gzira, and those in between, an effort which is appreciated.
However, if the PTA could take the trouble to enquire with the users themselves they will quickly note that no one is satisfied. As the correspondent explained, it now takes longer to reach her destination. Sliema/Gzira users wait forever for this bus with no fixed time to take them to university and it takes even longer going back home because the bus has first to travel all the way to St Andrew's and then drive back towards Valletta.
It seems that only one circular bus is being used, hence the delay. It is not fair to pooh-pooh the matter and suggest that students walk. In fact, when the weather permits, this is what some do but it is the task of the Malta Transport Authority to provide the service required, preferably not forgetting the residents who do not live on the main routes, such as Tignè and Qui-Si-Sana.
I had suggested to our local council that they try and solve this problem using their courtesy bus. Notwithstanding all their efforts, this did not work out because the Sliema bus is on the road for a very limited time and is mostly useful to the elderly.
University lectures start on the hour and it is imperative that students arrive on time.
If transport to the university and back were satisfactory, the parking lots on campus would not be bursting at the seams. A serious solution is imperative in this day and age.