Editorial: Election Day has arriv(a)ed

So technically, we are without a Budget and without Franco Debono – at least until March 9, thanks to, among other factors, the Arriva bus (dis-) service, which seems to have been a total failure despite the many attempts at making it work.

Arriva has gone beyond repair. The perception of it being inefficient and user-unfriendly will remain for years. I look forward to see how the electoral manifestos will address the situation

So now what? How will a new government address the situation? Will the bendy buses stop bending on March 9? Will the drivers be given scholarships to finishing schools in Sweden?

Will our roads miraculously widen overnight? Will buses stop breaking down in every corner? Will traffic make way for the green buses to be on schedule? Et cetera, et cetera...

Frankly I can’t see this happening. A new government, of whatever political creed, has now got an obligation to all public transport commuters to find a solution to this real, not perceived problem.

This is a mammoth task as I believe Arriva has gone beyond repair. The perception of it being an inefficient and user-unfriendly public transport service will remain for years to come.

When a public issue is so dramatically politicised, it will remain a problem.

I now look forward to seeing how the electoral manifestos will address the situation, especially that of the Labour Party, which has been consistent in its criticism, unlike Arriva ‘mastermind’ Manuel Delia, who says the service is now working well.

There was no further investment budgeted for Arriva in 2013 although the company seems to be getting enough subsidies from the Government. But the Budget did present a few transport initiatives, the main one being a policy to have smaller, less polluting and more modern cars on the roads.

This is being incentivised by slashing registration tax on least polluting cars (Euro 5) by some 30 per cent, while increasing Euro 4 car registration tax by 10 per cent. A positive move indeed for those who can afford to buy a new car!

However, while acknowledging that the scrappage system will be extended further to have newer cars on our roads, the decision to lower the maximum refundable amount from €2,000 to €500 is not at all encouraging, even though the scheme has been opened to commercial vehicles.

In truth, €500 is really nothing.

Also, the many classic car enthusiasts should finally be happy with the proposal to remove registration tax on classic cars aged 50 years and over. A long-awaited-for initiative finally gone through.

One final word for this time of year: efficient or not, use Arriva if you intend drinking while merry-making over the festive season. With fuel and parking costs always on the rise, it’s definitely cheaper, and above all, safer to use buses, vans and taxis – well generally speaking it is!

Best wishes for 2013 and may the best party win!

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