23 JANUARY 2002

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Wide-ranging changes for public transport

Malta’s public transport users are expected to begin reaping the benefits of the Public Transport Directorate’s modernisation process, which should also help to increase consumer confidence in the service and boost usage levels.

Amongst the initiatives are a long-awaited facelift for the Valletta bus terminus, the importation of new low-floor buses, the impending introduction of the bus ticketing machines and the training of the entire PTD’s outside personnel – mainly seniors, supervisors, enforcement officers and transport assistants.

Discussions between the PTD and the Environment Ministry with a view to upgrade the Valletta bus terminus are currently underway, while improvements to the area should be visible to commuters later this year. Within this scope, a contract is expected to be awarded to a local contractor, which will see local councils across the islands replacing antiquated bus shelters.

Malta’s buses themselves are also due to be upgraded, with several enquiries concerning the importation of new low-floor buses in hand from countries such as China, the UK, Italy, and Poland. The new buses will be of the low floor type, providing for easy access to all commuters including wheelchair bound people where accessibility to the bus would be through a ramp located at the entrance to the vehicle.

The buses will also be equipped with at least a Euro II engine, which would provide acceptable emissions standards and will also be of the latest design so that, aesthetically, the fleet will be significantly improved – as will the quality of air surrounding buses on the roads.

The utilisation of technology is also integral to the PTD’s bid to revamp public transport as we know it. The this end, the PTD has initiated two main projects – the analysis of tenders received for the bus ticketing machines tender and the compilation of accurate route information.

Bus time schedules were produced following a survey that gathered information on the 3,700 daily bus trip and now full time tables have been posted at bus termini and at major bus stops across the islands and also on the PTD’s website at www.maltatransport.com.
The information gathered is also being used as the basis for the route programming of the new bus ticketing system, which is currently being implemented. Once in place, the PTD will be in a better position to compile data on passenger travelling patterns at different times of the day, week and year. Once the data is at hand, new routes and improvements to those already existing may be established to satisfy demand.

The information and experience gained will also be used as a basis for an Automatic Vehicle Location System, which will help locate buses operating on scheduled routes and give timely advise to the regulator and operators on trip delays so that the relative adjustments could be instantly undertaken. Besides this, the introduction of the AVL will also help in the regulation of the service so that the commuters are better served.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt