TM says back-to-school traffic up by only 2%
School runs only account for a two per cent increase in car-based traffic, according to Transport Malta.
But there are nearly six times more coaches on the road during school days, “enhancing the perception that the roads are more congested”.
The authority was commenting on the complaints about back-to-school traffic that characterise the end of September each year.
The Times readers recently contributed to a list of proposals to reduce traffic, many focusing on the need to encourage more use of school transport.
In a reaction, Transport Malta referred to the results of the extensive National Household Travel Survey carried out in May 2010.
The survey found that students use greener modes to travel to school than for the rest of their journeys.
In fact, students usually travel by car 76.2 per cent of the time, using buses only 14.5 per cent of the time.
During school days, however, 40 per cent of students travel by car compared to 55.8 per cent who use public or school-organised transport.
“In total, the actual increase in car-based traffic due to the back-to-school factor is only 2.03 per cent during the peak hour,” Transport Malta concluded.
However, it noted that one must also consider that most school trips made by car are longer than 2.5 kilometres, a problem largely due to the dispersed catchment areas of many schools.
“Therefore, the two per cent increase in car-based traffic has a higher effect since the distance travelled is generally higher. This needs to be addressed by better use of collective transport.”
Meanwhile, the trips on foot amount to 5.3 per cent while cycling is negligible.
Transport Malta said it was tackling the problem by supporting the police in peak hours to direct the flow of traffic efficiently and by increasing road capacity through the construction of new roads and widening of existing ones.
However, due to Malta’s limitations and the fact that traffic tends to increase in proportion to the infrastructure provided, it considers traffic management “more important” in producing long-term results.
Therefore, Transport Malta is also implementing the EU-funded Modus project, which aims to achieve “a modal shift”.
“This will include linking of adaptive traffic light junctions coordinated together via a traffic control centre, introducing CCTV at critical parts of key nodes on the network, better information to public using real time variable message signs and real time traffic bulletins.”
The project also includes introducing a number of bus lanes and other bus priority measures to improve the journey time and reliability of buses caught up in traffic.