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Only one bid for operation of harbours ferry service

The Sliema ferries at the turn of the century.

The Sliema ferries at the turn of the century.

Just one company submitted an offer to operate a scheduled ferry service linking Valletta to Sliema and Cospicua.

Transport Minister Austin Gatt said in Parliament that the call for tenders (issued in December) closed last February 16. Transport Malta issued its letter of acceptance to the bidder on March 29 and talks on the finalisation of the contract of service are currently being held.

When the call for tenders was issued, Transport Malta had said that the ferries would operate between Sliema and Marsamxett in Valletta and between Valletta and the inner part of Dockyard Creek in Cospicua.

The authority said the services were aimed at reducing land traffic, its associated costs and environmental impact.

"After a steep decline in the popularity of transportation by sea during the final quarter of the last century, the Sliema/Valletta connection has recently seen a steady increase in popularity. There are strong indicators that the volume of users, particularly tourists, can be increased further and well beyond the trips per day currently conducted during the peak season. Furthermore, albeit more challenging, the government is confident that it is possible to increase the popularity of this type of transport with locals," Transport Malta had said.

It added that the main objectives of the ferry services were the provision of a reliable service which would operate on a fixed time schedule, offered at a price and level of service aimed at stimulating its further increase in popularity.

This may necessitate initial financial compensation and exclusive use of strategic landing places until the volume of passengers reaches the desired level to become a profitable operation.

The service will complement other maritime transport such as water taxis and traditional boats (Dgħajjes tal-Pass) which have become increasingly popular over the last few years.

The contract will be for eight years.

There will be three landing places in Sliema (Sliema Ferries), Marsamxett near the waterpolo pitch) and inner Dockyard Creek (between the Regatta Club and the No 1 Dock area in Cospicua). A berth at Lascaris Wharf or Pinto Wharf will also be available.

A financial contribution would be expected from the operator from the fourth year onwards.

Free use of the Barrakka lift in Valletta would be offered for all ferry ticket holders.

The operator would be expected to operate two simultaneous services one in each harbour and a guaranteed minimum service all year round at a maximum interval of 30 minutes from each landing place, within a stipulated schedule as well as additional services to cover increase in demand, including during national holidays and events.

The tariffs can only increase once every three years.  

Maximum fares shall not exceed €1.5 per trip for adults. Children under the age of 12, and holders of Karta Anzjan or Blue Card shall only pay 50c per trip.

The operator will be obliged to offer a weekly pass with unrestricted use for a maximum fee of €10.

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