The Malta Independent 22 October 2020, Thursday

King Long Bus handover to Arriva marked with ceremony

Malta Independent Sunday, 3 April 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

A ceremony was held yesterday at the port in Xiamen, China to hand over 172 King Long buses to Arriva, for shipping to Malta to form part of the new bus service that starts on 3 July.

Arriva Malta managing director Keith Bastow was joined by Minister Austin Gatt and a delegation from the Ministry for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications and Transport Malta at the event in China held by the Xiamen King Long United Automotive Industry Co. Ltd (King Long) that manufactured the buses.

When Arriva won the 10-year contract to operate the public transport service in Malta, it made a commitment to replacing a large part of the island’s ageing bus fleet to greatly improve passenger comfort and reduce the environmental impact of transport in Malta. In January, Arriva announced the first stage of delivering on that commitment, with the signing of the contract for the supply of 174 new buses by King Long.

At the ceremony, Mr Bastow said: “As an international transport expert, with a fleet of 16,300 buses, Arriva frequently sources vehicles from across the EU. When placing orders for buses, we look for high quality, flexible suppliers who can deliver to our exacting specifications for the different environments in which we work, innovation and experts capable of providing practical, good value solutions.

“When considering bus suppliers for the Malta contract, we thought of King Long. In recent years, King Long has developed as a bus manufacturer and I have been impressed by their hard work and commitment to improvement. King Long has earned a good reputation for quality, design and customer service within the international bus industry. I believe that King Long have demonstrated they have the high quality manufacturing standards to produce vehicles to deliver on these requirements for this important contract.”

King Long will be supplying Arriva with 49 nine-metre buses and 125 12-metre buses. Two of the buses are already in Malta, and are involved in route testing and driver training. By the time Arriva begins operating in Malta, on 3 July, 66 per cent of the fleet will be King Long buses.

The 12-metre buses will mostly operate on main route services to and from Valletta. The nine-metre buses will be used on feeder services throughout the islands, taking advantage of their smaller size but relatively high capacity to access the centres of towns and villages.

All the buses are diesel low-floor vehicles with easy access and feature Euro V engines, air-conditioning, comfortable seating with adequate leg room, and real time passenger information displays, including next scheduled stop announcements.

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications Austin Gatt said: “It is a great honour for me to be present for this landmark ceremony, which continues to consolidate the strong ties between China and Malta and marks a strategic milestone in our efforts in Malta to revitalise and transform our public transport service.

“I congratulate Arriva, our new partner for transport in Malta, for the vision shown through negotiating and concluding this agreement with King Long. Arriva had the courage and foresight to look beyond the conventional and to enhance its competitiveness with the advanced technology of King Long.

“The Chinese export market today provides a continuous ‘health check’ to the production lines of other countries, including those of the European Union. The Chinese product competes strongly not only on price, but also on quality, and this stimulates international competition to strive to improve their product offering.”

Dr Gatt added: “I have no doubt that this agreement between Arriva and King Long will directly benefit the product and service to be offered in Malta to the Maltese customer and to all public transport service patrons. The quality and performance to be offered by these buses is one of the major cornerstones which we expect will lead to a significant increase in patronage over the coming years. This in turn will greatly assist in the achievement of our primary objective: that of a marked modal shift from the use of private cars to public transport.

“I am pleased to experience at first hand the comfort, quality, safety and reliability of these buses, which we will soon be experiencing in Malta, and for this I thank you all.”

Keith Bastow said: “The vision of the Maltese government and Transport Malta is for a 21st century public transport system. Arriva and our consortium partners, the Tumas Group, and suppliers such as King Long, have the skills and expertise to make that vision a reality. It is my honour to be here today to take delivery of these buses from King Long.”

Other guests at the ceremony included deputy mayor of Xiamen Ms Huangling, King Long president Guo Renxiang and Vice chairman Xie Siyu, Emanuel Delia, Stanley Portelli and directors from various Xiamen municipal governments.

The buses will leave China on 4 April and are due to arrive in Malta at the beginning of May.

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