Transport reform: bus owners have no veto - ministry

Transport reform: bus owners have no veto - ministry

The Transport Ministry said today that it was not excluding the Bus Owners’ Association from talks on the transport reform. Nor was it excluding it from tendering for a new contract. But submissions by all tenderers would be treated equally.

Referring to an earlier statement by the association, the government recalled that it had launched a reform consultation document and held a national conference. The association was among those who participated and its views were considered.

The association, however, needed to realise that consultation did not mean having a veto.

The ministry said the association could not be awarded the 10-year contract it had referred to because the EU had turned down the proposal made by the government in agreement with the Transport Authority.

The government, however, had promised the association that any of its members who did not continue to operate in public transport would be compensated. This commitment would be honoured. The association itself could have confirmed that talks about this had already started.

While the government would seek to conclude these talks before issuing the call for tender, it was being made clear that it would not subject itself to any veto which the association might think it had by letting the talks continue unnecessarily, the ministry said.

In its statement, the Bus Owners' Association accused Transport Minister Austin Gatt of trying to create trouble in the country over the way he announced that a call for tenders for the operation of bus routes would be issued in July.

The association said it was never against the reform of public transport, but this as never the subject of any meeting it had had with the minister.

Dr Gatt had made his announcement when no agreement had been reached with the bus owners, not even on areas such as compensation and the future of hundreds of families.

"This clearly shows that the minster wanted to create trouble in the country, since the bus owners have invested thousands of euros in this sector," the ATP said.

The association said that before the general election it had been promised a 10-year contract, with compensation if it was not renewed.

But Dr Gatt, instead of going for the contract, had opted to go for tenders, and the bus owners had therefore been deceived.

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