Metromania is there, but a rapid bus-based public transport system could be the solution to traffic problems in Malta
Metromania seizes Malta after Prime Minister Robert Abela unveiled that the long-awaited studies commissioned by the government on an underground system will be the subject of a public consultation in the coming weeks. But there is a better, much more efficient solution that could be operational in a few years, a rapid transit system by bus.
It’s easy to see why the news got so many people excited. For many Maltese who have used impressive metro systems in some of Europe’s major cities, efficient service seems to be the most obvious solution to the country’s endless traffic problems.
However, while the eye-catching renders increased the buzz around the project, it led people to ignore the more glaring issues behind the proposal.
The construction of a metro will not be an easy task and will require a fund of several billion euros. It will also require massive infrastructural and geographic changes in Malta’s current transport system, which will come at the expense of green spaces and city centers.
Meanwhile, projections suggest it will take at least 20 years to complete, meaning it could be decades before the country sees benefits from the proposal, if at all with questions about the long-term feasibility of the growing service.
The truth is that a simple and effective solution has been right under our noses.
The BRT, or metro bus, is a bus-based public transport designed to have better capacity and reliability than a conventional bus system. Typically, a BRT system uses dedicated bus routes and prioritizes buses at intersections where they interact with traffic.
Ultimately, BRT seeks to combine the capacity and speed of a metro with the flexibility, lower cost and simplicity of a bus system.
Unlike the metro, a BRT, which is a rapid transit solution, can be completed in a relatively short period of three to four years. It also comes at a fraction of the cost compared to other light rail projects, while having less impact on current infrastructure and the environment.
A BRT also makes sense for a country like Malta – which would need to build a complete metro system from scratch with no guarantee that it will be used enough to justify its massive daily costs.
Currently Malta carries around 6,500 passengers per hour throughout Malta and Gozo. The busiest corridors are the South and Sliema, which transport 1,800 passengers per hour and 900 passengers per hour respectively.
In comparison, a light rail system would need at least 20,000 passengers per hour to be feasible.
A BRT would help solve the traffic problem while being able to expand its service if needed.
Oddly enough, the journeys will actually be faster than its metro counterparts, while ensuring that the country makes a drastic switch to public transport in a much shorter time frame.
Of course, the ball remains firmly in the government’s court as to whether or not to pursue its plans. So far he has at least conducted a study on the metro project, far more than can be said of any of his predecessors, who have for too long buried their hands in the sand on the matter. transports.
But, we shouldn’t let the excitement keep us from building the best possible future for money. Billions of euros of investments to the detriment of our environment should not be the only answer.
What do you think of a rapid transit bus?