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Arriva to stop operating bus service by January 2014

22 Dec

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.

arriva terminus2

arriva terminus

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

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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.

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July 2011 – The launch of the service started with fireworks – a large number of workers refused to work because of their roster conditions and were promptly sacked.

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Complaints soon started, particularly about the routes and lack of punctuality. Routes were changed three times. Unpopular interchanges were removed and the focus returned to Valletta.

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The new bus service brought with it a new bus terminus at St James Ditch, but the old bus slots around the tritons fountain later returned to use as more routes were added.

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The bendy buses were a constant problem because of narrow streets or inexperienced drivers.

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The Arriva bus service in Gozo was consistently praised.

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One of the saddest episodes – a number of passengers were injured when a bus crashed into Portes des Bombes.

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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

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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