The removal of “discriminatory” two-tier bus fares has improved Malta’s attractiveness to foreign nationals, the spokeswoman for an expat rights group said.

“The country definitely wasn’t doing itself any favours with the old ticket-pricing system. This is about more than just the price of tickets; it’s about the message being sent to foreign nationals considering moving here. This is a step in the right direction,” Patricia Graham said.

Ms Graham was at the helm of an anti-discrimination campaign which lobbied for the removal of the double pricing introduced by recently-departed operator Arriva back in 2011.

The buses will move a lot faster now that drivers don’t have to act as immigration inspectors

The two-tier system came to an end on Monday on the back of a damning report last month by the European Commission, which deems the fares discriminatory and threatened to take Malta to the European Court.

This prompted the government to withdraw the higher fares when the transport authority took over the service last week.

Foreign nationals living in Malta will now pay the standard €1.50 for a day’s travel as opposed to the €2.60 fare that was previously imposed.

Expatriates had also complained about being charged €12 for a seven-day ticket, instead of the €6.50 cost to locals.

Ms Graham said the move would also improve the overall service of public transport.

“The buses will move a lot faster now that drivers don’t have to act as immigration inspectors. The situation was just ridiculous before,” she said, adding that action might not have been taken if the EU had not stepped in.

“The government is acting like this was its own initiative, but in fact this is only happening because the EU came down on them like a ton of bricks.”

Last October this newspaper received a string of complaints from foreign nationals claiming that they had been forcefully ejected from Arriva buses when they refused to pay the discriminatory fares.

Alison Miles, 22, claimed that she was shouted at and ridiculed by an Arriva ticket inspector who would not accept her e-residency card as proof of Maltese residence.

At the time the story had prompted one foreign Times of Malta reader to offer to finance legal expenses in a case against the operator.

Ms Graham insists the expat community’s collective outcry against the scheme has been instrumental in effecting change.

“We want all discriminatory schemes to come to an end. At the end of the day we are all EU nationals and want to be treated fairly,” she said.

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