As we splash & splosh our way through summer (more like autumn), it’s sobering to note that the General Workers’ Union of Malta has instructed its Arriva members *not* to wear uniform neck ties… because of continued very high temperatures there. It’s also worth noting that Transport Malta, a sort of national TfL, is fining tie-less drivers who are in breach of the standard dress code. I’ll comment no further than this because I recall I got myself into hot water when in 2010I referred to short trousers as part of a uniform policy (in England). The very thought this year that shorts are even under consideration, even though this week looks better, at least here in the south…
Back to sunnier climes, though. Has it really been a year since Arriva took over in Malta? Since then, rather like the persistence of English rain, it’s never seemed to be out of the headlines.
Readers will recall a difficult start in the archipelago. The jury’s still not yet out but there have been significant improvements. Read the (plentiful) comments on the Times of Malta’s website over the past year and you get a feeling that passengers are *generally* realising the benefits of Arriva’s service. It ain’t a universal endorsement by any means but the trend is there. They say:
- The bangers have all gone
- The drivers are less grumpy than of old
- Pollution’s lower
- Frequencies are (generally) better
- Buses are (generally) more punctual and
- Air conditioned buses are certainly welcomed.
- 80 per cent of respondents said they used the old bus service before the 2011 reform, while 50 per cent reported using Arriva now.
- 20 per cent of respondents said they did *not* use the bus service before the reform, while 50 per cent reported they now do not use the bus.
- 17 per cent more passengers were using the bus service in June 2012 (Arriva) compared to June 2011 (pre-Arriva).
- Eight per cent more passengers were using the bus service between January and June 2012 when compared to the same period in 2011.
Recently there came an interesting comment came from a Maltese Green Party spokesman who said, “It is very clear that the system is not coping with the demand.” I read this to mean that buses are full (I may be wrong). And this in spite of a flotilla of bendy buses to help mop up the crowds.
Emulating the hatred that cyclists showed in London where they earned the epithet “cyclist harvesters”, there’s also a strong cycling lobby complaining about bendies. But did anyone ever get “harvested” in London? Don’t think so.