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Arriva deadline moved to the Budget vote day

Arriva’s fate will be decided on December 10. Photo: Sifra Kempenaar

Arriva’s fate will be decided on December 10. Photo: Sifra Kempenaar

It is not only the Government’s fate that will be determined on Monday when a vote on the Budget will be taken – Transport Malta has decided to give its verdict on the state of Arriva’s services on the same day.

Transport Malta last month slammed the “unacceptable” service of the public transport operator and gave it until the end of November to bring it up to scratch. Otherwise, it would deploy its own buses at Arriva’s expense, the regulator had warned.

In a press release issued yesterday, Transport Malta said Arriva had promised to implement measures to address the problems and a final decision would be taken on December 10.

Transport Malta recalled that it wrote to Arriva on November 14 to say the quality of service in terms of reliability and punctuality of the 70s route group was “less than satisfactory”.

Arriva responded on November 20 acknowledging that the level of service on this route group was not meeting contracted requirements.

“Arriva undertook to take measures to address these problems including the deployment of additional bus capacity on this route group,” said Transport Malta. The full set of measures was set to take effect last Sunday, including doubling the frequency of route 73.

Transport Malta confirmed that the frequency of route 73 had been doubled but said it would be closely monitoring the performance of the entire route group this week to verify the effect of Arriva’s measures.

Meanwhile, Transport Malta has also submitted its monitoring findings on routes 82, X1 and 43 and is awaiting Arriva’s response on what measures would be taken.

Speaking to The Times yesterday, Transport Minister Austin Gatt said if the problems were not solved by the end of this week, the penalties previously mentioned would come into force first thing on Monday morning.

This new deadline happens to coincide with a Budget vote that Nationalist MP Franco Debono has pledged to vote against, which would trigger the Government’s collapse.

Ironically, it was the public transport reform that first prompted Dr Debono to start calling for Dr Gatt’s resignation. The backbencher has since vowed to vote against the ­Government if Dr Gatt remained in Cabinet.

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