Last week a small group of elderly people gathered in front of Castille to protest against the recent changes to Valletta’s circular bus time-table. According to this group of senior citizens these changes have left them trapped in their homes or facing impossibly long walks.
Five years have passed since Austin Gatt was whipped for what was then called a disastrous public transport reform, and yet here we are again. After having heard all the criticism and insults, and after the majority voted for change, here we are still trying to get it right.
With chaotic bus schedules, convoluted routes and bendy-buses catching fire, most of the criticism aimed at Arriva was justified but shouldn’t this Government have got it right by now? With all that work already done, with the biggest hurdle (that of removing the service from the mercy of owner-drivers) taken care of, and with all the leg work, studies, and the hindsight of what works and what doesn’t, shouldn’t this administration have figured it out by now?
Unfortunately this is not the case, and guess whose suffering the most? Certainly not the high flying political consultants who wouldn’t dream of using buses to get to their destinations, certainly not the people with companies in Panama and trusts in New Zealand, and certainly not Ministers or their families who have drivers at their back and call.
As usual it is the elderly and the people on the fringes of poverty who suffer the most, because they have no choice but to use this sorry excuse of a public transport system.
It might be much to expect Minister Joe Mizzi to thank Austin Gatt for his work, but after so much criticism and ‘know it all’ babble, it is not too much to expect a decent public transport system that gets the most needy from A to B without pomp and circumstance and undue suffering.