Malta to offer free public transportation from next year for residents: Finance Minister

On Monday, Clyde Caruana, Malta’s Finance Minister, announced free public transportation for citizens to encourage people to give up their automobiles and alleviate traffic congestion. According to Caruana, this programme would begin next year for Maltese residents with a bus card, but not for foreigners. Malta is at the top of the list of countries with the most cars.

According to the most recent statistics, the stock of licenced vehicles stood at 400,586 at the end of September 2020 for a population of just over 500,000 people. The free transportation initiative was one of many outlined in the budget for 2022, which included a slew of social measures aimed at mitigating the impact of growing living costs. Caruana also proposed a price hike for electric automobiles from 9,000 euros to 15,000 euros.

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat advocated this policy three years ago

Currently, public transportation is free for students aged 14 to 20 and above, people with disabilities, and those aged 70 and above. Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat advocated this policy three years ago, and now it has been implemented. Muscat had stated at the time that Malta required infrastructure to assist the process, according to the Times of Malta. He also suggested that commuters might be compensated to use public transportation in May 2019.

Ian Borg, the current transport minister, mentioned the possibility in parliament in July of last year. He had stated that this was a gradual process and that public transportation was free for 80,000 people at the time, according to the Times of Malta. Borg stated that the government’s goal was to make public transportation a viable alternative to private vehicles, although he agreed that bus frequency in some places needed to be improved.

Similar approaches are being considered in several other nations

Similar approaches are being considered or tested in several other nations. Last year, Luxembourg made public transportation completely free, according to the Times of Malta. Caruana stated in his budget address that making bus service free to everybody will be implemented late next year to allow the operator to make the necessary arrangements.

(Inputs from ANI)

Image: Unsplash, Twitter/@ClydeCaruana

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