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Bus priority seats

Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

This newspaper reported (September 5) that an elderly couple travelling on a bus was verbally abused after the wife asked a child occupying a priority seat to allow her elderly, partially-blind husband to sit down.

The child’s parents shouted at the couple and apparently became violent. Malta Public Transport did well to lodge a report with the police. The Times of Malta also informed readers that Malta Public Transport runs educational media campaigns to inform passengers that priority seats on buses are reserved for the elderly, women with children and for those less able to stand.

I wonder how often these campaigns on the media are aired because, more often than not, the said seats on buses are occupied by young and not-so-young passengers, busy on their mobile phones giving the impression they are unaware of those standing around them.

A few months ago, after I wrote to the press, a Malta Public Transport spokeswoman called me and we discussed the points raised in my letter. I said that on one of my bus trips to Valletta I admired the driver who stood up and asked the young people occupying priority seats to give them up in favour of elderly people who were standing.

Unbelievably, the company spokeswoman told me: “He [the driver] should not have done so. His job is to drive his passengers to their destination safely.”

Whatever the driver’s job is, I feel what he did was laudable and his timely action was appreciated by the elderly who, at the time, were deprived of a seat.

Educational campaigns by Malta Public Transport should be more frequent because showing respect and being courteous to others is on the decline. Besides, the driver is the captain of the bus and, as such, besides driving the passengers safely to their destination it is part of his job to see they travel in the best convenient way possible. It is unheard of that a driver be reprimanded by his company for seeing that the priority seats in a bus are occupied by people who deserve to be seated.

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