On Tuesday 17 December 2013 Transport Minister Joe Mizzi said that Government talks with bus operator Arriva had been exhausted and the outcome had been referred to legal and financial experts. He did not give details when asked if loss-making Arriva would stay on, saying that what was important for the government was that Malta had a serious, efficient bus service which operated punctually on new routes. He said the reform would take some time since it entailed some six months for new buses to be ordered and delivered. Asked by Opposition spokesman Toni Bezzina for a job guarantee for the Arriva workers, on whom 1,200 families depended, Mr Mizzi said an efficient bus service needed more vehicles, and that meant more workers were needed. The Sunday Times of Malta had reported on 15 December 2013 that Paramount Coaches, one of the leading private bus and coach operators in Malta, was interested in taking over the bus service should the long drawn-out negotiations between government and Arriva fail.
On Sunday 22 December 2013 it was confirmed that transport operator Arriva will be leaving Malta by the first quarter of 2014 under a transition agreement finalised between the company and transport authorities.
Transport Malta and Arriva management negotiated the terms of the deal through which the Transport Authority should take over the company and a portion of its substantial debts in a nominal sale.
At a press conference on Monday 23 December 2013 Transport Minister Joe Mizzi said that Arriva will hand over operations to Transport Malta on 1 January 2014. A government company would take over the bus service on January 1 using the Arriva buses. Workers’ jobs would be safeguarded. A team from Transport Malta and Arriva would continue running the service for a transition period. The minister said there would be no return to the old buses. “We want to move forward, not backwards,” Transport Malta chairman James Piscopo said. Mr Mizzi said the difference in fares charged between Maltese and foreigners would be brought to an end on 1 January 2014
The Transport Authority is then expected to issue a call for expression of interest to re-award the licence. This averted the option of the company filing for liquidation – a messy prospect for both Arriva and the government.
The new bus operator would be selected on the basis of the new route network which Transport Malta intends to roll out.
Arriva’s short history in photos
2011 – 2014
April 2011 – Brand new Arriva buses arrive from China. They are a quality leap from the old buses, low floor, air conditioned and with euro V engines.
Disaster – the first of three fires on bendy buses in August 2013 sparked the beginning of the end for the bus service. 56 bendy buses were impounded. Arriva handed operations to Transport Malta on 1 January 2014