Ministry: 90% of bus service working well, passenger numbers up
PL spokesman lists broken promises in Arriva service
The Transport Ministry said this afternoon that 90% of the bus service was functioning as it should, and the number of passengers had over the past year risen by between 9% and 11% compared to the previous year.
The ministry was reacting to comments made by Labour's spokesman on public transport, Joe M. Sammut.
Dr Sammut hit out at Transport Malta, saying it had not delivered on many of the promises made when Arriva took over the scheduled bus service.
Speaking on the first anniversary of the introduction of Arriva in Malta, Dr Sammut said passengers were still suffering delays and timetables were not being followed.
Contrary to what was promised, 70% of the bus fleet was not new and not all the buses were air-conditioned or had euro V engines.
He said Transport Malta had made a bad job of re-drawing the new routes and although these were later changed, more improvement was needed.
Furthermore, although subsidies were meant to decrease, they actually had not when one considered the €2 million which had to be given to Arriva when the route network was revamped again late last year.
Dr Sammut acknowledged there were some positives in the new service, including the night service and the service in Gozo. Drivers were also better trained and smarter, he said.
With reference to the size of the buses, Dr Sammut argued that some of the old buses could have been retained on some routes, particularly for tourist purposes.
He said the new fare structure was good for some people but not for others, and he disagreed that foreigners were charged under a different fare structure.
In its reaction, the ministry said the Opposition criticised the government and ignored the efforts made by the workers.
It said that under Arriva, patronage had over the past year risen by between 9% and 11% over the previous year. The company now employed 1,200 and the general view was that the service had improved considerably compared to a year ago.
However it seemed that for the Opposition, it meant nothing that Malta now had cleaner air, thanks to a fleet of buses having euro V engines.
It meant nothing for the Oppositon that people now travelled in airconditioned buses, that Arriva made 150,000 stops daily and that Gozo, for the first time, had a proper bus service.
The ministry said beginnings were always difficult, but it had heeded complaints and acted on them. Arriva was fined whenever contractual obligations were not met, with the fines having totalled almost €500,000 since November.
Changes had been made not only to the routes, but also to the fares of the Park and Ride.
The ministry said it acknowledged that further improvement was needed, not least to the Arriva IT system and to punctuality. However everyone admitted that under this government, huge progress had been made in transport,m which also included the coaches, mini busesm taxis, electric cabs and water taxis.
Arriva in a separate statement said that 99% of its buses were equipped with air conditioning and that 187 of its 285 buses were approximately one year old.
"Arriva completes 74,000 km per day in Malta and Gozo which is equivalent to 26 million kilometres per year. This offers the most extensive network with many travel options.
"In spite of road works, traffic congestion and badly parked private vehicles, Arriva completes 92% of all its journeys on time. Irrespective of this the company and its employees work hard every day to improve operational performance"
With regard to the routes, Arriva said that following the changes of May 27, including 19 new routes and 42 revised routes, it had satisfied most of the requests received during the past months.