The Malta Independent 11 December 2018, Tuesday

Free public transport initiative will improve traffic and families’ disposable income - Muscat

Sunday, 9 September 2018, 10:37 Last update: about 3 months ago

The new free public transport initiative for students of church and independent schools will remove 6300 cars in the morning, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said.

 Last Saturday, the Ministry for Education signed two five-year contracts with operators over the running of the public transports at state schools; and church and independent schools. The state school contract involves eight operators, while the church and independent school contract involves 18.

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Speaking on One Radio, Muscat said that the measure would not only reduce traffic during the morning but would also allow families to save 700 euro per year on their disposable income. 

He did concede that there may be teething issues given that the project is a complex proposal, however, he maintained that in the long-term the plan would yield positive results. 

"We want it to be simple and effective," he said explaining that operators will be paid directly by the government for the service, which is expected to cost 26 million euro. 

He also revealed that the government was planning to launch a pilot tracking system whereby parents would be able to track their children from when they get on the bus or mini-van till they arrive home. 

Muscat stressed that this measure formed part of a wider push towards a cultural change in the way the country views public transport.

"This, coupled with the free bus service already provided to those between 16 and 20, means that people do not need to dependent on cars till they are 20," he said adding that economic growth allowed the government to invest in such projects. 

Muscat then turned his focus towards the recent news concerning a baby who was found abandoned on a doorstep of a block of apartments in Bugibba. 

Refraining to comment on the specifics of the case, he said that it was important to focus on the positives and the 'thousands' of people who voluntarily offered to help. He also emphasised that in these circumstances the country should look to "help not demonise" the mother, stressing that the child's responsibility is of both the mother and the father.

"We cannot be a society which attacks the woman every time," he said.  

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