is transport in Malta ever going to be public? What is keeping us from being free?
My thirty year existence on this island came to terms with a new facade. A facade full of cars, trucks and more cars, filling our roads.
Traffic is always a problem especially in the dreaded rush hours. Malta is plagued with this phenomenon and while increasing traffic flow with new roads helps, it certain doesn’t solve the overall congestion.
I don’t blame people for using their private cars. They’re quick, reliable and relatively cheap to maintain. In other countries, the running costs are far greater, especially when it comes to fuel used and parking in the cities.
Our distances are short and parking is free virtually everywhere, if you find one, that is.
The small size of our island makes private transportation a dream, but it should also be so for the public sector. Yet, it definitely and categorically isn’t.
Using the bus would make my daily commute an hour and twenty minutes longer each day. That gets lengthened if you’re lucky enough to find a couple of full up buses.
For such a small island our system is embarrassing. It should be as easy as travelling around a large city. Yet, our poor civil engineering probably makes this impossible.
Two wheeled vehicles are on the rise, but with an increasing amount of fatalities on our roads, it’s not as straight forward as it seems.
Get a motorbike? You would probably want drivers to actually respect you on the road before hopping onto your saddle.
Bicycles are a bit of a problem due to the hilly nature of our little rock, apart from the fact that you have to be quite fit to actually enjoy a ride. Besides that we have no real bicycle infrastructure set up and a lot of our roads are either too narrow or busy to actually bike safely.
Pedelacs set you back quite a large amount, minimum two thousand euro for one. With the cheapest cars hovering around 10k, guess which one our lazy arses would buy….
Our blip of a nation is in a transportation cul-de-sac.
I think the only ways out this are the following:
- Dig tunnels and spend big euros in an underground system. Would surely turn a lot of things around.
- Educate people to respect everyone on the road to incentivise any kind of alternative to cars.
- Offer direct bus routes to industrial estates, business centres etc.. and do so at convenient times eg. rush hours, change of shift times etc.
- Tax credits for people who don’t own a private vehicle or bigger subsidiaries towards buying greener and traffic friendly options, just like a pedelac.
One last thing that holds us back is definitely our lazy and morbid habits of using our cars to go everywhere and park right in front of where we are going, even it means to double park.
In other nations, you can see people walk to places everywhere. For them it is just part of the journey to get off a bus and walk home. Us Maltese would complain, get in our car, slam the door and dive off.
My mum asks dad for a ride whenever she knows she won’t find an easy parking spot. Patient dad makes the drive back and forth twice. All this happens because mum doesn’t want to use the bus or park a bit further and walk.
Above is an example of our abusive relationship with our private cars. Unless we don’t admit that this car dependence is hurting us, we will never move forward and free ourselves and our roads from this plague.