Arriva Malta defends two-tier fares structure
Updated: Agreement between TM and Arriva signed this evening
The project director of Arriva Malta, the new operator of the bus service, expressed confidence today that his company would be able to stick to its commitments and bring about a radical improvement of the service.
Speaking at a press conference hours before the agreement with Transport Malta is signed, Pierce Marlow preferred not to comment on the legality of having a two-tier fare structure which differentiates between residents and non-residents.
He said the decision to have such a fare structure was discussed and agreed during the talks with Transport Malta. Such a structure, he said, had been implemented elsewhere and it made sense in that both sides believed that regular users – who invariably were residents – should be rewarded.
Mr Marlow was unable to immediately mention other places where such a fare structure exists, but said details could be given.
(An official for the company later pointed out that there were similar distinctions between residents and tourists being made in Estonia and Venice, on services not operated by Arriva. However, Arriva itself was piloting a similar scheme on the islands of Minorca and Mallorca, Spain.)
Mr Marlow said that should the EU deem the structure to be illegal, fresh talks would be held between Transport Malta and Arriva.
Mr Marlow delivered a presentation on his company’s successful operations in several European countries, including the UK.
Asked about problems in Malta related to traffic congestion and the state of the roads, he said Transport Malta had made its own survey of the new routes and Arriva would do likewise, using its new buses, to ensure that everything would run smoothly.
On the recruitment of some of the current bus drivers, Mr Marlow said that all the drivers would be re-trained. He insisted that any driver who worked for Arriva was expected to meet certain criteria and observe standards of behaviour. If this was not the case, they could not work for Arriva.
George Fenech, representing the Tumas Group, which has a stake in Arriva Malta, said no decision had been taken yet by a group of bus drivers over whether they would buy a stake in the new company. They have six weeks to take a decision.
The agreement between Arriva and Transport Malta was signed this evening at the Vittoriosa Waterfront. The new bus service starts on July 3. Transport Minister Austin Gatt said Arriva would be investing €40 million in Malta. Most of the buses on July 3 would be new and would have Euro V engines, he said.