The Malta Independent 16 December 2018, Sunday

ADT Defends increase in public transport fares

Malta Independent Monday, 10 January 2005, 00:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

The Malta Transport Authority (ADT) has defended its decision to increase public transport fares by five cents and denied claims that the increase had not been complemented by an improvement in the service being provided.

In a statement, the ADT referred to the one issued by Labour MP Charles Buhagiar, who claimed that although fares had been increased, nothing was being done to actually improve the service being provided to local and foreign passengers. Mr Buhagiar said that no measures had been implemented to ensure a greater efficiency and improved quality of the Maltese public transport service.

The ADT said the increase in public transport fares was only one in a string of measures taken by the authority to ensure an improved service, where efficiency and quality will become the order of the day. The new bus fares had also been introduced in an effort to make the public transport system more sustainable.

The authority said that the increase in bus fares was one of a number of measures being implemented by the government in order to have a better public transport system. The last time the bus fares had been revised was in 1999 in Malta and 2000 in Gozo.

As already reported in The Malta Independent a few weeks ago, one such measure will be the introduction of the first ever code of conduct – binding bus drivers to respect passengers, to wear a uniform, to be punctual and more efficient and to keep their buses clean. This code of conduct will be introduced in the very near future.

Moreover, the bus drivers are expected to have an Operator’s Logbook which will contain all the information related to that vehicle, including the mileage, fuel consumption, routes and maintenance history.

These measures are expected to be introduced imminently by way of an agreement reached between the government and the bus drivers in October and form part of the overhaul in the local public transport system.

Through this agreement, the government settled for what the bus drivers were requesting with regard to an increase in their salary but tied this increase to a number of measures aimed at improving the public transport system. As had been promised, the first instalment was given to the bus drivers after the introduction of several new bus routes.

The ADT explained that, despite the increase in expenses, especially those related to the increase in the price of fuel, government had always absorbed this price and continued to subsidise the service. The total amount spent by the government to subsidise the public transport service is Lm2 million. The authority said the government intends to use the funds allocated to the public transport system to improve and

modernise it, rather than just to cover the operational costs.

The agreement reached by the ADT and bus drivers concerns a subsidy of Lm1.7 million for their operational costs in 2004. Moreover, the government agreed to an extra Lm300,000 for

additional costs the bus drivers may incur for the provision of the service.

The ADT said that if the bus fares had not been increased, the amount which would have had to be handed out to subsidise the

system would have reached the Lm3 million mark.

The authority also pointed out that, in his statement, Mr Buhagiar had failed to mention that the last time the bus fares were revised was in 1999 and since then, in real terms, bus drivers’ income had decreased drastically due to increases in operational costs, including the cost of fuel.

The ADT said the increase in bus fares will not affect the elderly and neither will they affect students, especially those who will be using the new routes to university.

For the first time, students aged between 16 and 18 who are not entitled to a stipend will be granted a special pass which, prior to the introduction of this measure, was only granted to students who were under 16. In addition, children aged between three and 10 will also be paying favourable rates.

The authority said the government has invested heavily in improving the local public

transport system, especially with the introduction of 124 new state-of-the-art buses.

In addition, the government has also invested in new bus ticketing machines to improve efficiency and for the data to be recorded in a database on the public transport system in Malta.

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