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Nearly all bus owners give up their licence

440 buses sold to the government

Photo: Martin Attard, DOI

Photo: Martin Attard, DOI

Only three out of 508 bus driving licences have not been committed to the government, Transport Minister Austin Gatt said this afternoon.

Addressing a news conference he said that from a total of 508 licenses, 377 held by owners of old buses and 131 by owners of low-floor newer ones, only one owner of an old bus and two owners of the newer buses did not commit their license.

A total of 315 old bus owners also sold their bus to the government, as did 125 owners of the low floor ones.

Dr Gatt said that the 508 buses were owned by 340 people, 215 of whom were also drivers. All owner-drivers were interested in the 10-year job guarantee.

Another 10 owners who employed a driver said they were interested in the job guarantee on behalf of their employee. A total of 36 applied for early retirement, an option that was available for those older than 56 while 79 were not interested in the guarantee.

The minister staunchly defended the €55 million payout saying the government had a legal and moral duty to compensate when taking over someone’s business.

“This is a reform that has been in the pipeline for 20 years but no one has ever been successful.”

The minister said that regular training programmes were to be organised by Transport Malta for bus drivers and whereas before the government could not take action against drivers who misbehaved because it did not have a contract with the association, there was now a contractual agreement.

He said that Transport Malta, which is signing the contract with the new operators, would now be able to investigate a report and take action against both drivers and operators.

Behaviour and education, the minister said, would be part of the new contract.

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