Mizzi gives no indications on new public transport operator

Transport minister refuses to say when government will finalise the deal to select the new public transport operator  

Transport minister Joe Mizzi would not answer questions posed by the opposition deputy leader Mario de Marco over the selection process of the new public transport operator and how much the temporary service is costing the taxpayer.

While confirming that Transport Malta was in the process of concluding negotiations to select the new public transport operator, Mizzi did not give a clear indication of when this process would be over.

Instead, Mizzi told Parliament that unlike former PN governments, he would not rush through with the selection of the new operator “because we want to things the right way.”

In his reply, de Marco asked how much government was paying for the temporary service Transport Malta was providing before a new operator is selected, however Mizzi repeated that government was taking a cautious approach to avoid repeating the same errors in public transport which led “to millions being lost, workers missing work, patients missing operations and appointments and students missing exams.”

Asked whether he could confirm whether bidders were requesting up to €40 million in subsidies, Mizzi replied that his government was committed to offering “an efficient public transport system.”

Without denying whether bidders had asked for such a hefty subsidy, Mizzi told the opposition “you’re either dreaming or lying if you believe that the service can run without subsidies, adding that the former PN government had granted the previous operators over €20 million in subsidies.

In April, Mizzi announced that three companies had submitted their bids to operate Malta’s public transport service.

The public transport service was nationalised in the beginning of 2014 after Arriva transferred its assets to government.

From information tabled in parliament, it was revealed that in the first two months, Malta Public Transport Services Ltd made €7,272,138 in operational expenses.

When the national public transport company took over the Arriva Malta operations for a nominal €1, Malta Public Transport Services Ltd absorbed €7.9 million in total debts.