Emigrants on holiday want to be considered as Maltese on buses

The Arriva circular service in Valletta. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The Arriva circular service in Valletta. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Maltese emigrants are upset when charged tourist fares on the aquamarine Arriva buses.

The revamped bus service brought about a change in fares with tourists paying more than Maltese identity cardholders. But Maltese migrants who have dual passports feel the distinction should not apply to them.

“I’m not a foreigner. I’m Maltese and I’m very proud to be Maltese. I visit my country every year or two,” an upset Lawrence Dimech said, noting he even has property and money invested here.

Mr Dimech is a former Maltese journalist who migrated to Australia when he was about 20 years old.

“It’s not about having to pay an extra dollar but it’s a matter of pride,” he said.

Mr Dimech said he was treated as a tourist and was asked for his ID card. Instead, he showed the bus driver his passport as proof of being a Maltese citizen.

Mr Dimech, who was accompanied by three others, said it was much cheaper for them to use their car and pay a parking fee.

The price of a day ticket for Maltese residents is €1.50 while that of a seven-day ticket is €6.50. A day ticket costs tourists and those not in possession of a Maltese ID card €2.60 and the seven-day pass costs €12.

A spokesman for Arriva said a passport did not contain an address, so it could not be considered relevant.

A person was considered to be a Maltese resident if he held a valid identification card, including photograph, issued by the Government of Malta, attesting his identity and his residential address in Malta, issued for that purpose, in accordance with any law applicable at the time in Malta.

The European Commission last year launched an inquiry to determine whether the fare structure was compatible with EU law, which prohibits discrimination based on nationality. It has yet to reach a decision.

The Sunday Times reported last weekend that passengers who appeared to be Maltese were being charged normal fares without being asked to produce their ID card while Maltese resident passengers who appeared to be foreign were seen being asked to present proof of residence.

Arriva rejected claims its bus drivers were discriminating against some Maltese residents going by appearance.


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