The Malta Independent 25 September 2022, Sunday
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Overcrowding on buses – a tragedy waiting to happen, MPT denies passengers 'packed like sardines'

Tuesday, 28 July 2015, 09:18 Last update: about 8 years ago

Frequent users of public transport have expressed their concern with The Malta Independent about the way passengers are being “packed like sardines” on buses in a bid to reduce the queues and delays in the service.

This situation, the passengers say, is a “tragedy waiting to happen”, because in the likelihood of an accident the number of people hurt or worse is bound to be high.

Drivers are allowing a greater number of passengers onto the vehicle than there should be, especially on the most popular routes, passengers told The Malta Independent. This has often led to situations when people are literally holding on to each other on the bus.

There have been reports of mild altercations between passengers who find themselves being pushed or grabbed. When the air-conditioning system on the buses is not functioning properly or not functioning at all, the situation also becomes stuffy and unbearable.

Malta Public Transport is increasing the number of buses on the roads but on routes where the number of passengers is always high, this is still not enough to meet demand. People are complaining that they have to wait for more than an hour to catch a bus when the frequency is supposed to be of one bus every 15 or 20 minutes.

With the number of tourists visiting Malta at its peak in July and August, the strain on the public transport service is being felt all the more. Tens of people waiting on bus-stops is a common sight these days.

“It is apparent that what the government promised with the removal of Arriva is still to materialise,” one irate passenger said. “The situation now is even worse than what it was with Arriva, and yet we are paying more for the service, both in terms of government subsidy as well as for tickets. I am still waiting for my tallinja card and therefore I am paying €2 every time I board a bus.”

Another passenger commented that it happens very often that up to three buses pass by without stopping at bus-stops because they would already be full-up. “I have been forced to call my son a couple of times to come pick me up in order to be on time for my appointment. And this happens in spite of me going on the bus-stop more than two hours ahead of the time when I am supposed to be in a particular place. It is shameful that the service is so poor.”

The Malta Independent has also received several reports of people who have been constrained to call a friend or a relative to take them to the required destinations simply because of the unreliable service.

We have also reported on other situations such as that of a driver who change the route bus number midway through a journey, faulty air-conditioning systems on buses and long delays.


MPT denies  overcrowding, says its is enlarging bus fleet

In reply to this report, Malta Public Transport said the safety of its employees and of the passengers that use that public transport network is of utmost importance.

“The Company has never and will never compromise the safety of its employees and of its passengers. With this mind, the Company categorically denies that passengers are being ‘packed like sardines’ on buses in a bid to reduce the queues and delays in the service. Each individual bus has been designed to carry a determined number of passengers. This is certified by Transport Malta as the national regulator for public transport in Malta. Furthermore, regular inspections are carried out by Transport Malta to ensure that such limits are adhered to.”

MPT said the first action it took when it started its operations in January 2015 was to confirm the order of 143 new Euro 6 buses to be able to cope with the increase in passengers that is being experienced. “In fact the first 40 buses have already been put in service earlier this month, and another 40 will be put in service in the beginning of August. Furthermore, the service will be strengthened further once the next batch of buses arrives in the coming days. This will bring the total number of buses in the fleet to 360. These new buses will replace a number of buses which have been leased from the UK as a temporary measure to meet the increased number of passengers during the summer months. These buses are indeed fitted with an air conditioning system which may not be powerful enough for the extraordinary temperatures recorded in these past days. 
The company also recognises that the various route diversions that are taking place in conjunction with the Coast Road Project may have affected the journey times on certain northbound routes, and it is doing its best to reduce the impact as much as possible.”




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