The Malta Independent 17 May 2022, Tuesday

Public transport passenger numbers nowhere near 2019, but positive trend has been noted

Kevin Schembri Orland Sunday, 23 January 2022, 09:00 Last update: about 5 months ago

Public transport passenger numbers are still nowhere near pre-pandemic levels but a positive trend has been noted, information passed on by the Malta Public Transport shows.

“Passenger numbers in 2021 amounted to 35.2 million, which is an increase on the 33.9 million passengers in 2020. However, this is still less than the 58.4 million passengers registered in 2019 and 53.4 million passengers registered in 2018,” a Malta Public Transport spokesperson said.


The spokesperson was responding to a number of questions sent by The Malta Independent relating to passenger numbers, Covid-19’s impact on public transport use as well as overcoming the car use mentality.

Covid-19 clearly had an impact on the number of passengers using the service.

“When comparing 2021 to 2020, one must bear in mind that the passenger numbers in January to mid-March 2020 were at pre-pandemic levels. Therefore, when comparing the period between April to December of both years, a more realistic increase of 29% in passenger numbers can be observed,” the spokesperson said.

“Covid is undoubtedly affecting life in general, which affects mobility and in turn affects passenger numbers on public transport. Apart from the massive reduction in tourism, which had a huge impact on activity in general, many Covid-related measures have an impact on mobility in one way or another. Measures such as remote working, whether as a precaution or due to quarantine, reduce the need for people to travel. Restrictions on restaurants, entertainment spots and events also result in a drop in travel requirements. Likewise, limitations on visiting vulnerable friends and relatives in person also mean that people are travelling less. Thus as long as mobility is affected, it is understandable that bus passenger numbers will continue to be affected too.”

“Notwithstanding all these challenges, we are seeing a general positive trend and passenger numbers are increasing, month on month,” the spokesperson said. Each month MPT is seeing more and more passengers using buses, across the whole network, the spokesperson added. “We would like to thank our passengers for their cooperation with the safety measures in place and reassure them that all cleaning and sanitisation procedures are still in place.”

“Independent research carried out during 2021 shows that people in Malta prefer mobility options that are fast, reliable and punctual,” the spokesperson said.

“In order to attract more passengers and even shift private car users to public transport, the bus service needs to become more attractive than private cars. This can be done by giving buses priority on the road, especially at intersections.”

“Simple enforcement measures could also make the bus service more attractive, since buses currently face many challenges. The amount of diversions, whether planned or not, vehicles blocking corners and vehicles parked on bus stops are just a few examples of the obstacles that severely affect the bus service to the detriment of the passengers,” the spokesperson said.

“Malta Public Transport will continue working hard with the many stakeholders to improve the service and is committed to support government in implementing measures to make public transport more attractive to convince more and more people to use public transport buses.”

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