The Malta Independent 11 December 2017, Monday

TMID Editorial: Transport - Public transport is failing the public

Tuesday, 5 December 2017, 10:10 Last update: about 5 days ago

It has been quite some time since this paper wrote about public transport but that does not mean that all is hunky-dory in this respect.

On the contrary, there is growing anger in the country with the state of public transport.

- Sometimes, trips are just not carried out, especially when the driver does not turn up. This is traumatic for those people who have been waiting for the bus, especially in the morning to go to work.

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- Sometimes buses pass by completely full up (or they may even leave the outlying hubs already full) and thus people along the route get to miss their bus.

- The missed trips then have a knock-on effect throughout the day and the timetables get skewed. It would seem that the bus system has no way of replacing a driver who does not turn up.

- The public transport service is employing more and more foreign drivers, some with very basic English. This is due to the low wages they are offered which also explains why many Maltese drivers are leaving or have left. The wages offered are just enough for people coming from countries with high unemployment but then living in Malta especially relocating with a family does not come cheap.

- Due to the sheer pressure of daily travel, new drivers are being processed and trained as quickly as possible. They tend to come from different countries with different traffic standards than we have here and, above all, they are unused to the sheer hell of driving on Malta’s roads and traffic.

The new buses and the public transport routes seem to be holding well and the new buses imported in summer seem to have filled some of the gaps there were but many a time the technical improvements introduced these past years are switched off or, at any rate, not working. These include the announcements regarding the coming bus stop. On the contrary, we note that the amount of lit-up signs indicating which bus is coming next have increased.

The general feeling among the population is that the service is adequate – otherwise the number of passengers would not have increased the way it has. But the complaints about missing bus services get many people hot under the collar, especially when they arrive late at work or for school as a result.

Considering the huge increase in the government subvention since the the time of ‘bad old Arriva’, the public has a right to expect a better service.

Nor is it right to have a service that is increasingly dependent on Third World expats paid at Third World rates. If these people left their countries and came to live here, that means they felt pressured to do so and hoped to make Malta their home (and that of their families) for at least some years. It is not right to learn that some have obtained their training here and then went off to work somewhere else.

One also notes that the amount of women drivers, who have brought with them a real revolution in the way they treat passengers, has declined instead of risen. One also suspects that for some reason they tend to get the late night and weekend trips while the men drivers, especially the Maltese, get the prime runs.

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