One of the aims of the public transform was to reduce the number of cars on the road.
Statistics released yesterday confirm that Maltese commuters still prefer to own and use private vehicles rather than rely on the public transport system: further proof, according to Opposition spokesman Joe Sammut, of the failure of the recent Arriva reform.
As of the end of June 2012 - almost exactly a year after the reform was launched - the stock of licensed motor vehicles stood at 314,299, up by 1.9% when compared to 2011.
Of these new vehicles, the vast majority - 79% - involved passenger cars. New licences issued during the period under review amounted to 4,301. Again, most of the new licences (3,448, or 80.2% of the total) were issued to passenger cars, followed by goods carrying vehicles with 393.
"This only confirms what we have been saying for ages: it is a clear certificate of failure of the public transport reform," Joe Sammut, Labour's spokesman on public transport, said yesterday.
Part of the original aims of the public transform was in fact to reduce traffic congestion by lessening the number of cars on the road.
To date, Arriva Malta's website still lists the reduction of private vehicle usage as one of its main targets. "Everybody should and can help reduce global warming, let alone air pollution, with one simple gesture: leave your car at home," the website states. "Using public transportation you will significantly reduce the amount of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions you generate each day."
Sammut pointed out how the declared aims of the reform seemed to directly contradict the reality experienced by the man in the street.
"Let's not forget that when they launched the reform, they also removed a number of parking bays in various localities," Sammut said, adding that this indicated a prediction that the number of cars on the road - and with it, the demand for parking spaces - would decrease.
"But the opposite has happened. Evidently people do not feel they can rely on an unreliable service. The reality is that the service is not delivering as promised. The complaints we hear are that people still find themselves waiting one hour, one and a half hours, sometimes more, for late buses."
The increase in demand for private transport, he said, was therefore a direct reflection of "a lack of public trust in the system".