Malta will have free bus service in the space of a few years as part of the government’s attempt at trying to promote a sustainable form of travel, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg stated on Tuesday July 14.
Replying to a question from government backbencher Anthony Agius Decelis, Minister Borg stated that this is still a “gradual process which was started off some years ago with free transport for students, young people, elderly persons and disabled people who total 80,000.”
Currently, the service is offered for free for 40,000 students and young people that are between 14 and 20-years-old, 19,000 commuters which are over 75 years, as well as 19,000 bus users with special needs.
Minister Borg also added that the government aims to make buses a very good alternative to private vehicles, also stating that the frequency of buses in some areas need to change for the better.
Adding to this, he also said that throughout the last two years, Malta Public Transport, the operator of the buses, has managed to modernise its fleet with 90 new buses, with some having a much larger capacity than the King Long buses that were introduced in 2011 as part of the Arriva bus project.
When asked whether there will be a route starting from Għadira Bay during the summer to be able to cope with the increase in demand, the minister said that talks were currently ongoing with the Mellieħa council over potentially introducing a new route.
However, whilst he said that he had no objections towards introducing new routes, he did also add that by increasing the amount of routes, the government subsidies to the operator will also have to increase, with this currently already being around €30 million per year.
Earlier this year, Minister Borg stated that over 57 million passengers used the bus service during 2019, a sharp increase from 2018’s 53.4 million.
He had also stated that by the end of the legislature, he hopes that every pensioner will have free bus service.