Updated: - Arriva international CEO in Malta, PM comments on the bus service
The UK-based Chief Executive Officer of Arriva is in Malta to inspect the bus service after five days characterised by complaints.
The CEO, David Martin, arrived yesterday afternoon and this morning visited the Valletta terminus. He is also being shown around other facilities and meeting local company oficials and the government.
Transport Minister Austin Gatt said on television yesterday that he has made his disappointment known to the CEO. He noted that the company had said it would get the service on track by the end of the week, and added that the regulatory authorities may take action if problems persisted. However, he said, for him the most important thing was not the imposition of penalties, but ensuring that the people were satisfied with the service.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi in comments this morning said that the government was pressing Arriva to reach the standards which had been agreed upon, as Transport Minister Austin Gatt said yesterday. (See full comments on video)
Initial problems were to be expected, he said, and he was extremely disappointed by the fact that 70 drivers had not turned up for work, but he was confident that problems on the bus service would be resolved.
Arriva said this morning that the service is improving and more drivers are being deployed. A spokesman acknowledged early morning problems on the routes to Rabat and Zebbug.
Commuters, however, were still experiencing delays in several localities as well.
Meanwhile, Arriva also temporarily switched off electronic destination signage on the buses to rectify a computer fault which has persisted since the launching of the service. Most of the buses were temporarily displaying cardboard route numbers this morning.
SHELTERS FROM THE WEATHER
It is going to take six weeks for a canopy to be built at the bus interchange in Bugibba/Qawra.
Replying to a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Censu Galea, Transport Minister Austin Gatt said in parliament that a call for tenders was issued and the bids had been adjudicated.
The canopy will be completed in six weeks.
The absence of shelters from the blazing sun has been one of the sources of complaint about the new bus service - leading the authorities to set up temporary shelters at the Valletta terminus and some outlying interchanges notably Qormi/Marsa and Pembroke.