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‘Maltese have seen sense over bendy bus menace’

One of Malta’s bendy buses trying to turn on a roundabout. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

One of Malta’s bendy buses trying to turn on a roundabout. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

The politician leading the fight against the introduction of bendy buses in the Isle of Man believes he has the backing of the Maltese.

I am very pleased to see the residents of Malta have a sensible understanding of the foolish introduction of articulated buses in your beautiful island

“I am very pleased to see the residents of Malta have a sensible understanding of the foolish introduction of articulated buses in your beautiful island. I can only hope that they are not introduced on the Isle of Man as a result,” John Houghton told The Times.

Mr Houghton made headlines in Malta last week when he spoke against articulated buses in the Isle of Man’s legislature, known as Tynwald.

“Let’s not become a laughing stock like in Malta, where oversized buses have been seen trying to manoeuvre themselves along the narrow streets of its historic towns with all the grace of a rhinoceros stuck in a Wendy house,” Mr Houghton said in his Tynwald speech on January 21.

When contacted, Mr Houghton said he made the reference to Malta after reading about the controversy surrounding Arriva Malta’s use of articulated buses on the internet.

When made aware of the passionate response his comments had generated among readers of timesofmalta.com, Mr Houghton said: “I wish the people of Malta well in their pursuit of common sense in the future.”

Mr Houghton, a member of the House of Keys, the elected chamber of Tynwald, had unsuccessfully tried to have a select committee set up to investigate the feasibility of introducing bendy buses on the small British crown dependency.

The island in the Irish Sea is intending to trial the use of bendy buses on certain routes at specific times.

Bendy buses were first trialled there in 2009 but no decision was made on whether to introduce them permanently.

Mr Houghton has fought against their introduction on the basis of their perceived unsuitability to the island’s roads and due to safety worries – echoing concerns that have been raised by opponents of the buses in Malta.

He sent The Times photos of bendy bus fires and accidents that he had found on the internet to highlight his fears.

The MHK for Douglas North said in his Tynwald speech: “If Members of this Court consider this is a safe and reasonable means of conveyance of our children... then I’ll be a Chinaman!”

Malta

Size: 316 km2
Population: 416,000
Population density: 1,282 people per sq. km
Bus operators: Arriva Malta has monopoly on network
Road network: approx 3,096 km of roads

Isle Of Man

Size: 572 km2
Population: 84,500
Population density: 133 people per sq. km
Bus operators: government-owned and operated Bus Vannin
Road network: approx 1,107 km of roads

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