Tallinja card still required for free bus service

A Transport Malta spokesperson confirms that post 1 October a Tallinja card will still be required 

File photo
File photo

The Maltese bus service will be free for all ages as from 1 October as anticipated in the last budget but users will still have to tap their Tallinja when boarding the bus, a Transport Malta spokesperson confirmed.

Public transport is already free for persons aged 14-20, students 21 years old and over, persons with a disability and persons of 70 years and over. After October, the service will be free for every-one who is in possession of a Talinja card, for which anyone residing in Malta is eligible.

But the free public transport system will be changed from the current system, where up to now a person is required to have credit on their card in order to be able to travel. In the current system the amount of credit consumed during the month is then refunded back onto the card the following month.

As from 1 October 2022, persons using the personalised Tallinja Card will not be required to have credit on their card in order to use the mentioned services under the free public transport scheme. This means that all one needs is a valid personalised Tallinja card and that they tap the card when boarding the bus.

A Transport Malta spokesperson explained that the personalised Tallinja card will be retained as this provides valuable statistical information which can help the authorities improve the service.

MaltaToday also asked whether government is expecting an increase in patronage after October, whether any studies been conducted to establish the expected impact, and if an increase in patronage is being expected, what steps are being taken to ensure that the service caters for the in-creased demand.

“We are expecting that the measure will see an increase in the number of passenger trips, and by year end will be very close to those of 2019 which was a record year in relation to patronage,” a spokesperson for Transport Malta said.

According to Transport Malta, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed passengers travelling behaviours but the service is steadily coming back on track.

As regards studies on the forecasted increase in demand triggered by free bus service, “models on which predictions were made are being tweaked taking into consideration this year’s figures” and “expected passenger trips demand increases are being projected and factored in route frequency requirements”.

Other governments in Europe are introducing free public transport not just for environmental reasons but also to address inflation. With inflation near record highs of above 10% year-on-year, Spain’s Socialist-led government hopes to alleviate living expenses and encourage more people to take public transport by providing them with free monthly passes for all local and medium-range intercity routes.