[WATCH] AD suggests park and ride schemes and public transport to tackle traffic congestion

Alternattive Demokratika criticise white paper suggesting that school hours should be made earlier to tackle traffic congestion issues

AD spokespersons Arnold Cassola, Mario Mallia, Ralph Cassar and Carmel Cacopardo address a press conference to react to white paper on traffic congestion • Photo by Ray Attard
AD spokespersons Arnold Cassola, Mario Mallia, Ralph Cassar and Carmel Cacopardo address a press conference to react to white paper on traffic congestion • Photo by Ray Attard
AD says children victims of traffic congestion • Video by Ray Attard

Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) representatives said that the issue of traffic needed to be addressed head on by increasing things like park and ride schemes and focusing on providing more efficient public transport.

Speaking at a press conference earlier today, AD education spokesperson Mario Mallia said that the white paper suggesting to start schools earlier to reduce traffic was useless and that it was singling out children and making them bigger victims of traffic.

"Many schoolchildren already go to school earlier than lesson times due to initiatives like breakfast clubs among others, so the suggestion to start lessons earlier does not alleviate traffic congestion in any way," Mallia said.

AD chairman Arnold Cassola said that the biggest problem was traffic distribution and that the proposals being made currently would not have any real effect on the situation.

“Children who are the real victims of so much traffic, are being treated like the culprits,” Cassola stressed.

Mallia said that the suggestion had been made to avoid suggesting more drastic steps. He also explained that the transport offered to school children need to be scrutinized more strictly.

“For too long now, there has been an attitude of anything goes in the vehicles used to transport children to schools,” he said, adding that many of the vehicles used were second hand vehicles that had been imported before 1994.

“These vehicles are normally not accessible, and they also pollute more than more modern models. Furthermore, many of these vehicles don’t even have seat belts as they would have started being used before seatbelts came into legislation.”

Mallia said that AD felt that children’s safety should be given priority, particularly because they are the most vulnerable.

Transport spokesperson Ralph Cassar pointed out that AD was against the projects to add more parking areas and even the construction of more roads around the island.

“Increasing the traffic capacity of our roads, will ultimately encourage more people to use cars, and the problem will continue to escalate,” Cassar said.

He explained that efforts should be made to ensure that public transport buses are as punctual and frequent as possible, to encourage workers to commute on buses rather than them having to drive every time.

“We need things like Cycle to work schemes as well as car-sharing particularly in industrial areas to become more common,” Cassar said, adding that the creation of licenses for electric bicycles went against efforts to use alternate methods of transport.

“We also need a better infrastructure to accommodate various methods of transport,” he said with special reference to bicycle lanes.
Environment spokesperson Carmel Cacopardo said that the encouragement of alternate methods of transport had been felt particularly in view of the 145% increase in vehicles between 1990 and June 2015.

Quoting University of Malta statistics, Cacopardo said that traffic was depleting some 1.7% of the GDP of the country in terms of time wasted and fuel costs.