Government defends discriminatory Arriva bus fares

The government defends Arriva discriminatory bus fares scheme as necessary to Malta’s shift to public transport and ‘implemented in line with EU regulations’.

The Transport Ministry has issued a statement defending the differentiated bus fare schemes that the European Commission has recently slammed as discriminatory and not in line with the principle of proportionality.

The ministry defended the bus fare scheme on grounds that it is necessary for Malta's shift to public transportation, and also insists that it does not differentiate on basis of nationality, but of residence.

It also insisted that the implementation of the scheme was done in a proportionate manner in line with EU legislation.

In its statement, the ministry insists that that "the differentiated fare scheme, which is based on residence and not on nationality, is an essential component of the bus transport reform which has the objective of bringing about a modal shift from private to public transport, thereby positively contributing to Malta's environment, health, air quality and quality of life."

"Malta considers that such a scheme is, therefore, not only necessary for the well being of its residents, but has been implemented in a proportionate manner which is in line with EU legislation," the ministry said.

"Malta has argued that departure from the current subsidized fares would, in a best case scenario, lead to no, or insignificant, growth in bus patronage. In a worst-case scenario, it would likely result in a continuation of the trend of declining bus usage which has developed over the past 40 years."

The ministry also said that "Malta has repeatedly informed the Commission that the bus fare scheme is not based on nationality but on residence and therefore does not breach the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union."

Furthermore, it insisted that "Malta has emphasized that the bus service reform, including the proportionate nature of the fares, is justified under EU law as it is part of a larger policy by Malta aimed at the objective of addressing congestion and health problems."

The ministry also said that "to put the new fares into perspective, it is pertinent to note that the full rate (charged to non-residents), effective from 3 July 2011, is €2.60 for a day ticket or €12.00 for a 7-day ticket, either one allowing the holder unlimited travel on all bus services on the island of Malta."

"This makes it significantly cheaper than almost any other EU Member State," the ministry said.

"The Government is in discussion with the European Commission on the dossier," the ministry concluded.

When I go to an EU country, I'm not expected to, nor do I, pay a higher public transport fare because I am non-resident. This just the obscene GonziPN's way of milking anyone who comes to Malta. The sooner we are rid of this maladminstration, the better.
Shhh. Don't anybody tell the commission that this is all a load of bovine excrement. But we all know that you get the residence rate as long as you speak Maltese - no matter whether your residence is Paola, Bruxelles or Timbuktu.
Joseph MELI
What an absolutely perverse and obtuse argument to declare that Malta's bus fares are significantly cheaper than almost any other EU member state (wonder what EU country is the cheapest and how many are cheaper than Malta?) without utilising a like-for-like basis against such a ridiculous claim.