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Arriva service ‘much improved’

Transport Malta finds reliability on certain routes has risen from 13% to 90%

Transport operator Arriva has improved its service and punctuality on a number of route groups, especially in the 70s group, Transport Malta said yesterday.

The transport watchdog said it had carried out an extensive monitoring exercise on a “number of bus routes” to ensure the level of public transport “is brought in line with contracted levels and, most importantly, the users’ needs and expectations”.

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 or said it would deploy its own buses at Arriva’s expense.

Arriva had pledged to implement measures and a final decision had to be taken on December 10.

In a letter sent to Arriva on November 14, published in The Sunday Times, Transport Malta said the quality of service in terms of reliability and punctuality of the 70s route group was “less than satisfactory”.

However, in a press release issued yesterday, Transport Malta said that following a specific monitoring exercise carried out last week on the 70s route group, the situation had improved.

“The average reliability recorded in the morning peaks and also throughout the day on these routes has been brought up from between 13 and 69 per cent to between 90 and 100 per cent, which is significantly better than what was reported three weeks ago. With regard to punctuality, this has also increased significantly to 94 per cent from 50 per cent,” it said.

This improvement was due to the measures put into place by the operator including the allocation of additional resources and adjusting the schedules and timetables to better reflect actual journey times, Transport Malta added.

Even though it was aware of “problems across the network”, Transport Malta decided to prioritise the allocation of resources for monitoring on the main lines to and from Valletta to establish the causes and address these effectively. This will be followed by inter-locality and direct hospital services, according to the operator.

As can be seen from the results so far, “this exercise has been effective,” and it “decided not to deploy any additional buses for the time being but will continue to review the service levels regularly to ensure the improvements made are sustained,” it said.

Meanwhile, Arriva said it had reworked the journey times and schedules for routes 71, 72 and 73, which serve Żurrieq, Mqabba, Qrendi, Kirkop, Safi and Luqa.

It took into consideration the factors that had affected reliability and punctuality on these services including traffic problems and congestions.

“The new 70s were launched last Sunday and the use of additional buses, interworking of routes and doubling of frequency on route 73, which is now operating every 30 minutes, are among the solutions we implemented,” Arriva managing director Richard Hall said.

He said the company embarked on a detailed “timing and reliability exercise” that rescheduled the routes to meet the demands of its customers.

The company was also working on consolidating and improving services by focusing on groups of routes that complimented each other.

“We will be looking to repeat the work we did on the 70s on other route groups,” Mr Hall said.

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