Arterial roads will become single lane for PN’s trackless tram, Ryan Callus confirms

Nationalist Party candidate Ryan Callus says Labour’s metro idea is unfeasible: ‘Choice is between a trackless tram and existing traffic congestion’

PN candidate Ryan Callus says the party's proposal for a trackless tram is the only viable mass transport option for Malta
PN candidate Ryan Callus says the party's proposal for a trackless tram is the only viable mass transport option for Malta

The trackless tram proposed by the Nationalist Party will see arterial roads from where it will pass narrowed to a single lane, Ryan Callus has acknowledged.

However, he insisted the choice was between the current congested roads and a trackless tram that would make it easier for people to leave their car at home.

Callus said that the tram would run on arterial and distributor roads and will have a dedicated lane. “The tram will take up one of the lanes. We will not take up additional land to widen roads but people will understand the importance of taking the tram rather than using their car.”

The PN candidate was quizzed by journalists on Tuesday night during a Broadcasting Authority press conference as part of the election campaign broadcasts.

Callus said the metro proposal floated by the Labour Party last year is too expensive and will take far too long to implement. He insisted the PL has abandoned the proposal in its manifesto by saying it will study it further.

“The choice is not between a trackless tram being proposed by the PN and a phantom metro being proposed by the Labour Party but between a trackless tram and existing traffic congestion that will only get worse,” Callus said.

He insisted the trackless tram would cost around €3 billion – half the cost of the metro – and could be developed in five years as opposed to 20 years needed for a metro system. “Can we wait 20 years for a new mass transport system? The tram can be developed in five years,” Callus said, adding the PN had evolved in its thoughts after having proposed a metro in the 2017 election.

He insisted the PN will not tax people to implement its proposal, which he said will have wider reach than the proposed metro.

Callus said the PN’s costings of its electoral manifesto will be released before the election but would not say when. He underscored that the most important thing for the PN was diligent use of public funds.

The PN candidate said the PN’s proposal to introduce ESG (environment, social and governance) criteria for companies was intended to create a level playing field for operators.

Callus gave examples of criteria that could be adopted such as proper waste separation and no use of zero hours contracts.

When it was pointed out that the PN manifesto did not list the ESG criteria but only said these will be established after discussions with social partners, Callus insisted the proposal is intended to financially benefit companies that are compliant with higher standards.

He dismissed as “Labour spin” the suggestion that ESG criteria will increase costs for business operators.

Asked whether it was fair for the PN to expect higher standards from companies when the party itself had racked up millions in unpaid utility bills and did not file accounts for its companies, Callus said the party had entered into a repayment agreement with ARMS and this was being honoured.

Callus said the minimum wage should be pegged to a living income that was adequate for a decent life but did not say by how much this would increase.

“We are not arrogant. We are humble and will continue developing our proposals through continuous discussion with stakeholders. The understanding today is that the minimum wage and minimum pension is not enough to live comfortably but we are not arrogant and realise this will impact businesses and so we will continue discussing this,” he said.