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NEWS | Thursday, 04 June 2009

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AD slams transport tender for opting for polluting buses

Altenattiva Demokratika (AD) chairperson Arnold Cassola has slammed the tender for the proposed national transport service under the public transport reform for opting for buses which are more polluting.
“Why has Austin Gatt issued a tender for public transport reform that will be tendering only for Euro 3 buses?” Cassola asked during a press conference in Marsa yesterday afternoon to discuss AD’s proposals on transport.
“Euro 3 is an obsolete technology – we can expect the arrival of Euro 5 in the next few months,” Cassola insisted.
Cassola explained that the buses that were imported from China a few years ago were already Euro 3 buses. “Bus drivers who imported those buses will have to remove them, and instead we are issuing a tender to issue Euro 3 buses!” he insisted.
If Malta introduced Euro 5 buses, they could stay on the road for 15 years. “If we introduced Euro 3 buses, we would have to change them after a few years,” Cassola warned.
In 2012, the Euro 7 standard would be introduced.
“It is important that the current bus drivers become stakeholders in this reform,” the AD chairperson insisted.
Cassola explained that these people had forked out an enormous sum of money, two to three years ago, when they were told that it would have been the final public transport reform, they bought the buses imported from China.
“Now they will have to sell them, therefore a solution that is fair should be found for these bus drivers,” the AD chairperson insisted. “It would be important for the existing bus drivers to be introduced as part of the national transport system that is introduced,” he added.
The AD chairperson explained how the Nationalist Government had been announcing public transport reform for the past 22 years. “We hope that this reform is the right one at last,” Cassola added.
He explained that public transport should be an investment for the benefit of the community, therefore it should not be considered exclusively as a for profit concern.
Public transport, Cassola said, should also be considered as a social service which satisfied the needs of society and the community. “Therefore we need public transport that reduces emissions, rather than increasing them,” he added.
Moreover, if we had a public transport service which was regular, efficient and trustworthy which ran for an extensive number of hours, then “we can start removing congestion from our roads,” Cassola said.
A study that AD had conducted showed that to keep a private car and maintain it, one needed eight euros a day. “We are not saying to ban private cars, however one should balance their use with public transport,” Cassola added.
“We are happy with the public transport reform, but we want buses that use clean fuel,” the AD chairperson insisted. “We want buses that work on gas, hydrogen and electricity.”
AD also believed that trams should be introduced together with the underground in certain areas of the islands.
Moreover, Cassola said that AD welcomed the introduction of the ferry service between Valletta and the other ports in the area, which will ease the burden of traffic from the roads. He said that the EU had specific funds earmarked for shifting short-sea shipping from the roads to the ports. For instance, the port of Hamburg reduced pollution last year by 9%, Cassola said.


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