Bendy buses? They are absolutely great – Arriva
Operator CEO says they carry 150 people and are a cost-effective solution
Bendy buses, which were ditched by the London mayor, are “absolutely great” for Malta, according to the company that operates them.
The extra long buses can carry 150 passengers, with Arriva CEO Richard Hall calling them “a cost-effective solution”.
Speaking yesterday in an interview with the national broadcaster, Mr Hall said bendy buses carried as many people as two double-decker buses.
The Times has been chasing Arriva for an interview with Mr Hall for the past few days but the requests fell on deaf ears until yesterday afternoon when a company spokesman said this would be possible later next week.
Speaking in the wake of severe criticism this past week over the company’s poor service on certain routes, Mr Hall said Arriva was committed to improving punctuality and reliability.
However, he ruled out increasing the bus fleet. “The number of buses we operate is absolutely correct in terms of the contract with Transport Malta.”
In a scathing letter reported by The Sunday Times, the transport regulator said that certain routes were ill-serviced because of lack of buses, which made it unfeasible to adhere to advertised timetables.
Mr Hall admitted that not enough buses were deployed on certain routes, adding Arriva had to improve reliability and this included working in partnership with the regulator, the Government and the police.
“We are starting to deliver, we have a number of action plans, we have addressed a number of service groups already and we are addressing another service group, the 70s,” he said. The latest controversy concerned the 71, 72 and 73 routes that service Żurrieq and the outlying villages.
Mr Hall said that, unlike European cities where Arriva operated, Malta presented a different challenge because the system had to be created from scratch.
“The integration of an entirely new network was a huge challenge, not only for the company but also for the skills of the people who were employed,” he said, adding the Arriva service was a huge improvement over the old service.
On accidents, Mr Hall said a transport company that covered millions of miles was bound to have accidents. He admitted that some accidents were the drivers’ fault but insisted there were other factors to blame, including traffic and road conditions.
Mr Hall said the company recently signed a collective agreement with the General Workers’ Union that will see drivers’ salaries rise by 36 per cent over three years.