The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

Do public transport buses and bus shelters in Malta really cater for the basic needs of the public?

Sunday, 1 September 2019, 08:39 Last update: about 3 months ago

Soaring temperatures bring with them difficulties to commuters who use our public transport in Malta and Gozo. Not only are buses jam-packed with people elbowing their way in and out, but bus stops themselves are very often crowded with no semblance of a queue.  Although air conditioning is welcome, especially in summer, the temperature needs to be properly regulated to a comfortable level to avoid freezing passengers. Also, water from air conditioners has often been seen to leak on passengers. An oft-heard complaint is the inability of foreign drivers to communicate in either Maltese or English, not to speak of out-of-date information appearing on the bus, particularly so during festa diversions. Moreover, during night time, the tinted glass panes of the buses are obstructing the view outside so that it is difficult to see the route and more so the point of destination, especially as many commuters, both Maltese and foreigners  only have a vague view of where their destination bus stop is. Passengers are often at a loss when to get off the bus as the information given on the bus makes use of unfamiliar names and as a result often fail to ring the stop bell at the right time

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One complainant who contacted the Association for Consumer Rights, Malta (ACR) observed while on a visit to Gozo, that the only way for some shelter from the blazing sun was to angle yourself behind the bus shelter itself.  She complained that the clear glass used in some of them offered no comfort from the sun. However, according to Transport Malta, the glass used is not common glass but offers 99% UV protection while it reduces the heat inside the shelter by about 36%.

In 2018 it was reported that out of approximately 2,000 bus stops, there were fewer than one third covered by some form of shelter. In the same year, 20 more should have been added with 60 more promised for this year.

ACR is hopeful that the new bus shelters promised will be able to offer better shelter to waiting passengers from the elements, which are forever becoming more severe summer and winter. However, ACR believes that the bus shelters currently in use also need to be seen to immediately and improved to really offer adequate protection; it is sad to observe dozens of passengers in popular areas such as Valletta, Sliema, Bugibba and Mellieha unprotected. It is vital that these deficiencies be addressed hastily and efficiently, if we really want a substantial increase in the use of public transport.

 

Grace Attard

General Secretary

Association for Consumer Rights, Malta (ACR)

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