23 July 2003

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A new future for public transport

By David Lindsay
Speaking in today’s interview Transport and Communications Minister Censu Galea outlines what he calls a general overhaul of the public transport system.
Speaking just one day after the introduction of the new bus ticketing system, which was greeted with controversy in some quarters, Galea outlines discussions on the future form of public transport taking place at present between all parties concerned.
Among the wide-ranging changes in the pipeline is a shift from the Valletta terminus serving as Malta’s main public transport hub to the setting up of a number of major hubs across the Islands to replace the current Valletta-based system.
He explains, "We would like to have five or six major hubs from where major routes originate to various destinations, in this way reaching different parts of villages not necessarily from Valletta. This will be a big change when, hopefully, it comes to a conclusion."
Galea also pinpoints the need for a dedicated night bus service for the Islands, identifying Paceville as the prospective hub of the service that would run to most parts of the Island.
The minister also comments on the first day of operations for Malta’s new bus ticketing machines, which have more uses than what meets the commuter’s eye. He comments, "One very important point about the ticketing machines is that apart from reducing contact with the drivers, real information is being collected from the machines such as the number of passengers, from which areas and from which bus stops people are getting on the buses from. That information will be collected and will be used to determine a redistribution of the whole network."
Galea also speaks about the subsidy system for new buses to update Malta’s fleet, explaining that some 100 new buses will be on Malta’s roads by the end of the year and insists that discussions on subsidies for additional buses, which total a global figure of 508, will begin only when the first 147 subsidised buses are on the road.
Galea speaks of the possible introduction of smaller buses that would more easily navigate many of Malta’s narrow village streets, a proposal that holds the promise of delivering a more holistic service to Malta growing number of public transport users, while also speaking candidly about past proposals for alternative public transport systems for Malta.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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