I do not agree with the way the University student who hit the front page of The Times on Thursday made her frustration with the new bus service known to Transport Minister Austin Gatt.

Hopefully, routes will be amended to take the buses away from a number of roads which just are not meant to take their size- Lino Spiteri

Not that I was shocked by it, and presumably nor was he. But expletives are not necessary in even the most heated of exchanges. Furthermore, the few of them the student used were self-defeating. They detracted from the force of her protest-message. I am glad she later apologised for her language, but made it sure in a very articulate statement that her protest stood.

The protest was justified, and is strange the minister said he did not understand why it was addressed towards him.

The student claimed she had spent two hours to get to the University campus on the public bus of a service which Gatt had promised would be a revolution for the better.

It has not quite turned out to be that. The service has improved since the chaotic outcome of its early weeks, launched with a boastful Talking Point by Gatt in The Times. Yet it is still not quite up to scratch. Journeys still take too long.

That is not the fault of the Arriva operators, but of those who prepared the routes under Gatt’s political responsibility. The Transport Authority was well intended, planning to extend the network much more extensively than under the old system.

It did not work. Bluntly, they made a hash of it. Among other things some trips take too long. Much too long.

I am sure everybody concerned is bending over backwards to correct the package. Some things cannot be changed. The buses are too big relative to our roads, just as much as many tourist coaches also are, but the Arriva buses are far more numerous. That said, they are emission-free, an advantage which should not be discounted, however much else may be left to criticise.

Hopefully, scope for justified criticism will diminish in time. Hopefully too, routes will be amended to take the buses away from a number of roads which just are not meant to take their size. I experience examples of that in Attard and Għargħur. Many others speak and write of some areas in Sliema.

The irksome issue of trips taking too long, particularly to Mater Dei Hospital and to the University, should be addressed more robustly. Areas not adequately serviced despite the objective to offer more coverage, like Sta Luċija, should be looked into more than has been done so far.

Once improvements take place, there should be two positive developments. One is that the expletives that continue to be addressed at the new system and at those politically responsible for it (coming forth from many mouths, not just that of a university student caught in a moment of rashness), will stop.

The other should be that many more of those of us who use their car to travel anywhere will be enticed out of that wasteful cosiness towards, at least part of their time, the public transport service.

That, after all, was one of the major objectives of introducing a new public transport system. We have to wait a bit longer to determine what we do see.

It is Gatt’s responsibility to press for the necessary improvements. I do not doubt that he has been doing that. Say what one might about him – his brusqueness, occasional loose tongue, and wasteful insistence on a breakwater bridge without any utility or aesthetic attraction – he is generally speaking an efficient minister. Regarding the new transport system, he has not yet been efficient enough, hence the university student’s chagrin, and that of thousands of others.

It is not just the new routes of the public bus service that continue to deserve criticism, in the hope that things will improve.

There persistently remain issues related to transport that defy understanding why those within the government responsible for them do not take action.

Road-markings, a pitiful situation I and various others have written umpteen times about them, is one such matter.

The government spends substantial sums of money yearly to touch up road markings. It does so through the simple technique of having workmen paint over the old markings, or paint in new ones where necessary. The technique is inherently faulty, as those responsible for it must know.

Whatever the quality of the paint used, and there is no reason to think that it is not of good quality, the markings fade very quickly under the summer heat. What is left is washed away by the rain.

That happens regularly. Even various roads that were reconstructed confirm that. One example is the Zabbar-Marsascala bypass, which the Prime Minister uses at least twice daily. Other examples flow from the roadworks carried out to accommodate the Arriva buses. The roadmarks laid down are already fading.

That is not the worst of it. All over Malta, road-markings are disappearing, including at junctions and roundabouts and many zebra crossings, with implicit threat to pedestrian and drivers. Accidents are waiting to happen. There is a solution. Road markings should not just be painted over. They should be baked in.

A foreign resident pointed that out in The Times letter-columns years ago. The administration’s road experts may be abreast with a since-improved technique. It might be that such techniques cost more to apply. But probably, once through them road-markings last far more, there are net savings to be made over time.

What are the authorities waiting for to get serious about it? More accidents?

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