Today, the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects launched a pilot project which is the result of collaboration between Transport Malta and Malta Public Transport. This project will be implementing free WiFi on 50 buses, with some serving routes towards Mater Dei Hospital and the University of Malta, some routes which are popular around Malta, the internal Valletta route, and two vehicles in Gozo. The service will be available both on larger 12 metre vehicles and smaller 9-metre vehicles.
Hon. Borg reminded those present that his Ministry is currently carrying out work on several levels towards overcoming the challenge of congestion, through push and pull mechanisms, in several different projects together with a number of measures thought to incentivise people to use alternative means. He described public transport as an alternative means which can help to reduce the number of vehicles from the road and said that several steps need to be taken to encourage people to use it. The Minister mentioned the initiatives already taken by the Government, including the scheme offering free public transport to all youths who are between 16 and 20 years old, a scheme which started in January 2018 and through which 28,000 youths are benefitting. This scheme translates into several benefits, including up to €312 saved by these youths’ families, who will also be exempt from the initial payment to apply for the tallinja card. Increased use of public transport by this sector of society also means that we will have fewer cars on our roads, especially during peak traffic hours. This scheme was extended after a similar scheme in 2017 for all those who were 18 years old. Minister Borg also reminded those present that the tallinja card has now also been extended to the ferry service and emphasised the commitment to continue incentivising people through other schemes.
While speaking about the pilot project, the Minister said that this will be improving comfort for those who use the public transport service, and explained that WiFi access will be free and done through a sign-in every time, as user details will not be kept on the system. He ascertained those present that access will be filtered so that security is ensured. The connection will be standard 4G shared among all users, and some interruptions are possible while it is being optimised.
Minister Borg emphasised that the Government wholeheartedly believes in continuous dialogue and, in this case, dialogue with the private operator towards the improvement of the service. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to reach more solutions in the public transport sector and said that it is imperative to always continue looking forward.