The upcoming public transport reform as proposed by Minister Austin Gatt is a necessary step to catch up with the new demands on this sector for the 21st century, considering the traffic density, the people’s movement profiles, the demographic development as well as new environmental targets. The CVA system in this respect also requires certain revision.

However, some points of the new reform leave a lot to be desired while others are even in breach of European legislation.

With the measure of retraining drivers and the recruitment of new ones, there is the chance that a better service will be provided. Let’s hope that with this measure incidents in which drivers’ bad manners play a major role become fewer. Also, the respect towards other road users should hopefully be resurrected.

The related infrastructural changes (new bus stops, interchanges, termini, etc.) have become overdue considering the demographical and urbanisation developments of the past decades. Another welcome development is the fact that eventually more new and refurbished buses with lower emission values will operate. But I see a big problem with the plans to charge tourists and non-residents more for the use of the same services. Fares which are almost double those for Maltese ID card holders are discriminatory. I believe this is a breach of European legislation against discrimination. Besides this, the wrong signal is being sent to the struggling tourism industry.

The traffic concept has to be seen as a whole, so the CVA and the Park and Ride systems also have to be included in this reform. The minister himself said that the CVA was too cheap. The easiest solution is to put up the rates for entering and parking in Valletta. At the same time, and considering the fact that the Park and Ride service is also costly, it is understandable that this service shall not be continued for free. However, the proposed fares are far above a reasonable level. The income from the CVA should cover the costs of the Park and Ride, not the other way round!

I say the government is on the right track but certain aspects really need to be reviewed.

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