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New bus routes to be announced next week

New bus routes will be announced next week, with the aim being for them to be introduced in the first quarter of next year once there are enough buses and drivers, Transport Minister Joe Mizzi said on Dissett this evening.

He said Transport Malta would remain open for suggestions for further improvement.

The routes would be introduced in the first months of next year once Arriva made its preparations to operate them, including bringing more buses and engaging more drivers.

Commuters should not expect substantial agreement before March, he said, but the improvement after that would be major.

He said the routes were tailored in a way to ensure that the bus service was more punctual. More buses would be added to the areas where they were needed, and less so where patronage was low.

The increased route mileage would mean an increased subsidy for Arriva, he said, but fares would not rise. Talks were being held with Arriva both on the bendy buses and the routes.

He said his relations with Arriva were good. He was being straightforward, telling them he wanted a service which was efficient and safe.

He said he was still going on the buses to check out the situation and was only recognised three times out of 40. His purpose, he said, was not to see Arriva fined, but to see the service improve.

He said the former government had quietly given Arriva permission to increase the number of bendy buses - to 68. He wanted to see the bendy buses gradually phased out, and Arriva had accepted this in principle, although more talks would have to be held.

He said he had still not received a certificate of the safety of the bendy buses from a recognised international institution.

Asked if he feared that Arriva could leave Malta because of its losses, Mr Mizzi said one had to be prepared for everything.

He also said that discriminatory bus fares would stop and foreigners would be charged in the same way as the Maltese.

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