Free bus system to operate through Gozo-Malta tunnel

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that offering a free bus system would act as an incentive for people to not use their private cars to travel through the tunnel

The Prime Minister has announced that there will be a free bus system operating through the Gozo-Malta tunnel
The Prime Minister has announced that there will be a free bus system operating through the Gozo-Malta tunnel

A free bus system operating via the Gozo to Malta tunnel is being planned, the Prime Minister announced.

The buses will not simply be crossing to and from the entry points of the tunnel, but will be travelling across key locations, such as from Rabat in Gozo straight to Mater Dei Hospital and to Malta airport, Joseph Muscat said.

Addressing party followers at the Labour Party club in Rabat, Gozo, Muscat also said that suggestions for having a metro system operating across the tunnel were also not being dismissed completely, but that it had to be kept in mind that for such a system to be financially justifiable, there would have to be a considerably larger population on Malta's sister island.

"While we are not completely setting aside suggestions of a metro in the tunnel, we also have to consider other options," he said.

A metro system in Malta in 25 years' time

Muscat said that studies were also being carried out for the creation of a rapid mass transport system in Malta, which would be both overground and underground. "We are working on this, it is no secret."

It would take "at least 25 years" for such a metro system to be in place in Malta, however. "And in the meantime, we couldn't just not do anything about the roads until we have a metro," he said, which is why the government was upgrading the road infrastructure.

Regarding the Gozo-Malta tunnel, the Prime Minister emphasised that it was untrue that such a tunnel would degrade Gozo's environmental qualities.

"I categorically refute the idea that such a permanent link will destroy Gozo. On the contrary, our intention is to keep Gozo as an environmental oasis, and the most beautiful part of our islands," he emphasised.

Muscat underlined that the tunnel would be part of a wider network of roads, and said that it would also be possible to have a fast ferry service operating, even if the permanent link is in place.

He said there were still a number of studies and impact assessments which had to be carried out before excavation works start. "The actual digging will be the easiest part. In fact, we've been undertaking the necessary studies for five years now. And we have to continue these, and also keep listening to people idea's about the project."

Muscat said that the government's vision for Gozo was different from that which anybody has previously had for the island. "To us, Gozo is at the same level as Malta, and should have the same services and the same quality."

Economic growth came about after energy investment

The Prime Minister also touched upon Malta's economic expansion, saying this has only been possible because of the government's investment in the energy sector, such as the new power station.

"If we didn't invest in our energy sector, the economic growth we have experienced would not have taken palce. The new energy infrastructure led to lower utility bills and that kickstarted all this growth."

"It is now time for us to focus on the phyiscal infrastructure of our country," Muscat said, adding that one of the biggest commitments the government has made is to resurface all the country's roads over a seven-year period.

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