The Media category in the Press Section of the eCabs website

Here one can find informative and interesting articles which the tech mobility company publishes from time to time.

Please click on the photo above each item to access the original article.

Political consensus to fix our traffic problem

Political consensus to fix our traffic problem

Government, opposition must work together to address the country’s traffic problem.

A new transport minister was sworn in on Monday. Tasked with tackling the nightmarish situation on Malta’s crowded and crumbling roads, Chris Bonett has been handed one of the most challenging portfolios in government. 

The central issue? How do you reduce traffic congestion on an overcrowded island that’s obsessed with cars?  This is not a new dilemma – far from it.

So, how can Bonett succeed where successive others (he is the fourth transport minister since 2013) have struggled?

First off, there’s no time to waste.

The new minister should resist the urge to play for time by sweeping the issue under the rug – commissioning new studies or long-drawn-out reports on the transport situation.

The traffic problem, as well as the best possible solutions, have already been thoughtfully laid out by the country’s leading experts – most recently in the National Transport Strategy for 2050 as well as the National Transport Plan 2025.

In essence, these documents say the situation is critical and call for a total shift in the way we travel across these islands. It is time, the strategy documents say, to embrace a car-light lifestyle and change the way we move from A to B.

This means investing in buses, bicycles, ride sharing and, yes, sure, even ferries and other innovative solutions. But it also means taking unpopular decisions. And this is where it gets tricky. 

Malta’s two-party political system means that, all too often, governments are held hostage by the electorate over key policy issues. Ministers are unable to make bold decisions necessary for the good of the country for fear of reprisal from voters come the next general election. 

What transport minister, for instance, would introduce measures that disincentive personal car use? None. What transport minister would free up urban space currently gobbled up by on-street parking? Or create entirely car-free zones to replace tarmac with new walkways, trees and community spaces?

What transport minister would go through the trouble of investing in the development of a national mass transit system that won’t even be finalised in their political lifetime?

Making decisions that will yield long-term benefits is difficult when the policymaker’s future depends on the five-year political cycle. The solution to this dilemma lies in political consensus. 

If responsibility is shared across both the government and the opposition for this sort of unpopular, but sorely needed, policy decisions then the threat of voter retribution is significantly reduced.  

If Bonett wants to make meaningful headway in addressing the traffic problem, then he must reach across the aisle and bring the opposition on board.

Reducing personal car use holds the potential to reduce the negative impacts of transport.

eCabs Malta CEO Andrew Bezzina

Shadow transport minister Adrian Delia must also rise to this challenge and show the sort of political maturity and long-term thinking that is so desperately needed if we are to truly tackle the traffic problem. This could be a watershed moment for Malta – a political coming-of-age where we finally begin addressing the traffic situation in a meaningful way.   

Bonett’s first comments to the media shortly after being sworn into office are encouraging.

He was right when he told reporters that the solutions are long-term and require stakeholder input.

Make no mistake about it: the situation is critical. 

According to the number-crunchers at the NSO, there are now more than 18,000 vehicles squeezed into every square kilometre of road in Malta – the smallest and most densely populated country in the EU.

As the CEO of the only locally based ride-hailing operation in Malta, I recognise that we too play a big role here. 

The ride-hailing sector has added new vehicles to our roads and eCabs hopes to engage with Bonett to untangle this sector and introduce workable policies to improve the situation. 

Solutions exist.

This is a goal eCabs shares with cities around the world and with good reason. Because reducing personal car use holds the potential to reduce the negative impacts of transport and unlock our urban spaces. From air pollution to traffic accidents and the vast amounts of space used for parking and new roads which, instead, could be given back to the people who actually live in our towns and villages. 

But, to achieve this, we need political maturity and consensus.

Across the globe, countries and cities have gone on to reap the benefits of truly liveable urban spaces after making difficult policy decisions. 

It can work here too.

This opinion piece by eCabs Malta CEO Dr Andrew Bezzina was published in The Times of Malta.

eCabs could be powering your next ride in Athens

eCabs Technologies on exporting ride-hailing tech

eCabs Technologies is exporting its technology and industry know-how beyond Malta’s shores, teaming up with overseas partners to launch new ride-hailing platforms. Its first international partnership comes in the form of, which will debut in Athens, Greece this September, with other jurisdictions also in the pipeline.

The Athens launch in partnership with Greek company Intelligent Mobility App SA, signifies eCabs’ leap onto the global stage, backed by considerable research and development efforts, and a strategic drive for innovation and growth beyond Malta.

In an exclusive interview with MaltaToday, eCabs founder and CEO Matthew Bezzina sat down with MaltaToday to talk about the technological changes in the transport industry and what it took to take the eCabs product and export it abroad. He tells Nicole Meilak how the ride-hailing company transformed its business and is now going international.

Empowering global aspirants

eCabs describes its new product as a white-label solution for business interests looking to enter the digital ride-hailing space.

Bezzina says they have created ride-hailing tech that can be tailored to the specific needs of a foreign country and city.

The app they built for Greece for instance, looks and feels like the eCabs app, but incorporates specific features that are unique to the Greek transport reality.

This includes a unique pricing system that is based on the metering model used in traditional taxi cabs across Greece.

Similarly, when platforms launch in other jurisdictions, they will have their own unique features to reflect the rules and realities of that specific country.    

But eCabs aren’t only bringing tech to the table. Bezzina says they also bring market expertise and operational know-how.

He said they are forming “comprehensive partnerships” with foreign operators, providing operational support, marketing assets, and industry acumen.

Their first partners are major taxi operators in the Greek capital.

Having been through the difficult transition from a traditional cab company to a digital ride-hailing platform, Bezzina says they know how to help other businesses make the same transition.

And they do it all from their headquarters in Malta.

“Within a 100m radius from our office, you have a ride-hailing laboratory, a research and development site right here in St Julians,” Bezzina said.

A digital evolution

Looking back on the eCabs journey over the years, Bezzina says the company was disruptive to the Maltese transport landscape. “eCabs made it easier for people to get involved in the industry”.

For instance, he said the company opened the doors for women to become drivers – something seldom seen prior to 2010.

Starting out as a three-person startup in 2010, eCabs has undergone a remarkable transformation of its own.

Back in its earliest days, Bezzina and his first employees took down reservations for rides using pen and paper.

Today eCabs employs over 400 professionals, developing cutting edge tech, and is asserting its presence in the global ride-hailing market – a bold step for a Maltese, homegrown outfit.

“From 2016 and 2017 onwards, we went into a journey of digital transformation. Ultimately you need to level up in terms of the tech offering in order to be able to compete, not only on a local level but eventually on a global level.”

What was once a fleet ownership model has morphed into a dynamic marketplace connecting drivers and riders.

Technology has played an important role in this, but Bezzina thinks that data will have an even bigger influence on the market in the years to come.

“The more time passes, the more our company will have to become a data company. The user experience will be influenced, both from a driver and consumer standpoint, based on the right optimisation and usage of data.”

Triumph amidst adversity

COVID-19 took a major toll on cab companies – eCabs was no exception. The company experienced a 90% decline in year-on-year ride volumes as Malta ground to a halt.

But Bezzina says COVID-19 was the opportunity for eCabs to accelerate its transformation into a technology company.

“Throughout COVID the technology team became a technology company that today employs over 60 people. This is a growing number, and this all happened between 2020 and 2023.”

Bezzina says this is a story of resilience on several levels.

“It’s a story of resilience, of vision, of the team. It’s easy to do this stuff when you’ve just received a billion in funding. But we’re frugal, we optimised, and we’re self-funded. We survived – and even thrived – against all odds.”

The company’s move to internal technology development, Bezzina highlighted, was a pivotal move that enabled eCabs’ survival.

“Between 2010 and 2016 we used to depend on third-party technology… From 2016 onwards we took a conscious decision and said listen, we have to start building the technology internally because we have the product and operational know-how.”

And that leap has paid off with the company now eyeing overseas markets to export its technology.

The next time you are on holiday in Athens, you could very well be using Maltese technology to hail your cab ride to the Acropolis.

In the press:

Malta Today

It’s time to revisit splitting up Transport Malta

It’s time to revisit splitting up Transport Malta

For as long as anyone can remember, traffic in Malta has been a problem.

We’ve invested in wardens and road inspectors. We’ve drafted countless policy documents, and invested millions of Euros to subsidise public transport and build new roads. But we are still stuck.

That’s because to unclog our roads, we first need to disentangle Transport Malta.

Hiving off land transport from Transport Malta and setting up a new dedicated roads regulator would be a significant step towards tackling one of the biggest obstacles the country faces today: traffic.

The idea isn’t farfetched.

In fact, it was already put forward by the government five years ago.

In 2018, then transport minister Ian Borg announced plans to split TM into three separate sea, land, and air regulators. Promising greater focus and efficiency.

Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Azzopardi had even been appointed to chair a committee of experts that was tasked with managing this three-way split.

A full political cycle later and little has been heard about this. It would seem the plug was quietly pulled.

To be fair, transport policymakers face a nightmarish scenario.

Thickening population density, insufficient infrastructure, and disappointing uptake of transport alternatives.

All of which push people to stick with their private car, adding more and more vehicles to an overstretched network.

Diluted focus and compromised effectiveness

But the question remains. If cities and dense urban areas across the globe have cultivated functional transport systems, why can’t we?

While a lot rests on us as individual drivers of change, Transport Malta also plays a central role in all of this.

There are compelling arguments for unravelling the intricate web of transport regulation and establishing an independent road transport authority that can prioritise, specialise, and catalyse Malta’s land transport system to its fullest potential.

This is not to say that the maritime and aviation sectors do not deserve dedicated attention. They are important economic sectors within themselves.

But though there is an argument that shore-to-shore ferries play a role in Malta’s land transport mix, there is no reason why these two sectors should not also have their regulatory reference point that is separate from road transport.

A dedicated land transport authority

It is also worth pointing out that since its inception, Transport Malta has never had a chief executive who is an expert in land transport.

Instead, it has always been headed by someone from the maritime sector. With the brief exception of one CEO from the aviation sector.

A dedicated land transport authority would not only navigate the maze of road safety, licensing, and traffic management but also proactively address the evolving needs of public transportation, emerging tech solutions, and infrastructure development.

It would also allow for greater synergy with Infrastructure Malta, the roadworks agency with which it needs to work hand in hand.

In summary, the one-stop-shop of land, sea and air transport has become entangled in the complex dynamics of managing diverse transport sectors.

What we’ve been left with is diluted focus and compromised effectiveness.

This is despite the hard work of some truly dedicated TM officials.

A split would untether the road transport sector, enabling streamlined decision-making, resource allocation, and policy implementation.

This newfound agility could pave the way for enhanced safety, reduced congestion, and optimised transport services.

In an era of rapid technological advancements, a regulator with a clear mandate and unambiguous responsibility that really gets tech is also sorely needed.

Our transport system is failing

Governments have taken these types of decisions in the recent past.

Somewhere between the 2013 and 2020 political cycles, a policy decision was taken to address Malta’s infrastructural deficit.

As the economy accelerated, the island’s population, construction, and traffic density all swelled in tandem.

In the face of this, the administration decided to dedicate hundreds of millions of euros towards upgrading the country’s crumbling road network.

At the time there was debate about the validity of this as a policy imperative.

Would freshly laid roads and flyovers actually solve traffic? Or were these projects just another vehicle for facilitating economic growth?

Now that the asphalt has set, it is clear that this infrastructural upgrade was in fact needed.

But it is also apparent that wider and smoother carriageways and new tunnels were never going to address the reasons our transport system is failing.

To do that Malta needs a regulator focused exclusively on land transport.

In the press:

Times of Malta

Andrew Bezzina traffic congestion

eCabs Malta CEO suggests solutions as traffic leads to students missing exams

Students are missing O’ Level exams due to the ever-growing traffic congestion on the island of Malta – and eCabs Malta CEO Andrew Bezzina has taken to social media to share some possible solutions.

Traffic congestion and roadworks continue to be a major problem for students trying to get to their exams on time.

As a father of two, it won’t be long before my kids are sitting for their O’ levels and my family will have to shuffle between work and ensuring they get to their exams.

This can be a logistical nightmare for families.

What can be done to alleviate this situation?

Here’s a suggestion: rather than having students from all over the island flood into a single examination centre, the authorities should explore carrying out Matsec exams in students’ own schools or in regional catchment areas to avoid generating more traffic.

Rather than students travel to their exam centres, the exams centres should come to them.

As a tech company, at eCabs we collect huge volumes of data on traffic flows which show that Matsec season clogs up central areas of the island.

Transport authorities could draft cycle and walking routes for students within a five-kilometre radius and even encourage public transport for students as an affordable and reliable alternative to being driven to their exams.

We believe that by working together, we can create a better and more efficient system for everyone.

Let’s work together to ensure that students have access to the education they need, without the stress of navigating through traffic.

The reason behind the traffic chaos

According to online portal Lovin Malta, it seems that most of the traffic originated from the road closure of Triq is-Salina which will be out of bounds to vehicular traffic until 15th June.

Some students and their parents reported leaving their homes at 7.30 am and still not arriving at their destination by 9.00 am, with standstill traffic being reported along the St Paul’s Bay area from 7.00 am onwards.

In the press:

Lovin Malta | Times of Malta | Malta CEOs | Malta Daily

We already know how to fix Malta’s transport nightmare

We already know how to fix Malta’s transport nightmare

eCabs Malta CEO Dr Andrew Bezzina says that we already know what decisions need to be taken to solve Malta’s transport nightmare.

Earlier this week, figures were released by the National Statistics Office which laid bare Malta’s obsession with the personal car.    

According to the number-crunchers at the NSO, there are now more than 18,000 vehicles squeezed into every square kilometre of road in Malta – the smallest and most densely populated country in the EU.

Three in every four of these, around 14,000, are passenger vehicles – which is another way of saying personal and family cars. 

Other figures published this week, this time by the University of Malta, found that despite increased awareness of global warming and the climate crisis, younger people and students are even more attached to their cars than their elders.

It is clear to see then that Malta and the Maltese are dependent on private cars as their primary means of transport and that this doesn’t seem to be changing.   

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard all of this.

Ten years ago, an EU-wide survey found that traffic congestion is a bigger headache for the Maltese than any other European citizen.

Since then, survey after survey has shown that traffic and mobility remain horn-honkingly present in Malta’s list of top concerns.     

Throwing millions of Euros at road projects is not working

Traffic, as we all too often say, is a nightmare.

A few years ago, a policy decision was taken to start throwing millions of Euros at road projects.

This addressed the infrastructural deficit that had persisted for several years. But it was not coupled with the necessary investment in support infrastructure for alternative means of transport.

And although it was pointed out by academics and transport experts at the time that widening roads would simply invite more congestion – the policy decision to build roads had been taken and so build more roads we did.    

Today that prediction has come true and again, as a country, we today find ourselves asking the question: How can we fix our transport system?  

Earlier this month I was a guest at the Malta Sustainability Forum, where transport experts went through the gears of discussing this problem. 

And a few days earlier my brother Matthew sat on another panel of transport thinkers, this time for an event organised by Times of Malta, on the same subject. 

Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia was also on that panel. 

He had the unenviable role of being expected to say what he is going to do to curtail private car use in front of a packed audience that included representatives of some of the island’s major car importers. 

Farrugia’s response? He is meeting stakeholders to update policy documents and decide what decisions need to be taken. 

We already know the solution to Malta’s transport nightmare

The truth is however that we already know what decisions need to be taken.

They are clearly defined in transport policy documents that have already been published.

In 2016 the National Transport Strategy for 2050 and Draft National Transport Plan 2025 were put out for public consultation.

The goal, the 2050 strategy says, is to “reduce congestion through the increased use of other transportation modes”.

The document goes on to say that to do this we must “increase societal awareness on the need for sustainable travel choices”.

Can multi-modality fix our transport nightmare?  

The solution this policy document is proposing is a concept known as multi-modality. As the name implies, the use of multiple modes of transport to get to your daily destinations.

It’s the belief that moving away from dependence on the private car by providing other reliable ways of getting from A to B can decongest our clogged urban spaces and make them better places to live.

This is a goal eCabs shares with cities around the world, and with good reason: Because reducing personal car use holds the potential to reduce the negative impacts of transport and unlock our urban spaces.

From air pollution to traffic accidents, and the vast amounts of space used for parking and new roads which instead could be used for gardens, parks, and wide-open walkways. 

To achieve this, we need policymakers to stop rewriting policy documents, which have already been written, and start implementing their recommendations. 

Changing the way we think about travel

This kind of change, however, doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

We also need to change the way we think about travel on a personal level.

Integrating walking, cycling, ferries, scooters, buses, and yes, ride-hailing too, into our travel routines is the solution.

Ride-hailing is part of this solution. One car shared by 20 people in a day is 20 cars off the road.

Operating a fleet of ride-hailing vehicles and developing the tech that supports thousands of partner drivers in Malta and beyond has given me a unique point of view on embracing this shift.  

Across the globe countries and cities that have embraced multi-modality have gone on to reap the benefits of truly livable urban spaces. 

It can work here too. 

In the Press:

The Times of Malta | Lovin’ Malta

Simon Debono multi-modality socials

eCabs sees multi-modality as the future for Malta

CMO at eCabs Simon Debono recently spoke to about the state of the cab market in Malta and the importance of multi-modality.

There are at least 10 ride-hailing businesses in Malta now. Being a locally established company that preceded the mobility services and is thriving in it, how has the growing competition impacted and transformed your company? If an 11th or even 12th service sets up do you notice any impact anymore?

Competition is always healthy. It keeps you on your toes and forces you to be the best you can be. When Bolt entered the market back in 2017 it forced the company to accelerate the transformation that had already started. eCabs back then and eCabs today are two completely different animals.

Our growth has not subsided either. Be it from a product transformation perspective, our ambitions, or our growth in local volumes. I don’t see that changing, even if others attempt to enter the market.

Do you think supply in Malta has started to outpace demand and that the market is saturated with ride-hailing and taxi services?

Market saturation is a market decision. We’ve seen ride-hailing apps appear and disappear and we’re pretty sure we’ll keep seeing the same thing happening. You mentioned a number of ride-hailing businesses in Malta. New York has about 10 in a city with a population just under 19 million. To put to scale, Malta has around one ride-hailing service per 50,000 people. New York has around one ride-hailing service per 1.9 million people.

Through your company’s efforts to internationalise in 2023, what key differences are you coming across from a regulatory framework compared to Malta? Is there something in Malta’s regulation that is encouraging a still-growing quantity of services?

Over 13 years we’ve been through multiple cycles of regulation. Today we have a liberalised market and treat every player, new or otherwise, with the required respect. What we have been through over these years gives us the invaluable experience to set foot in new jurisdictions. The industry is in its infancy, so legislation is being shaped the world over and varies considerably from one to the other depending on the market maturity.

What do you expect the market to look like a few years from now, with more or fewer ride-hailing services?

We believe that the future will give us a consolidation of a few strong brands in the local market, especially considering the size of the market. But we also believe that not enough is being done to discuss what the future should look like. We strongly advocate for the country to make the necessary efforts to push for multi-modality. Not enough is being done. It is a narrative we have been advocating for years now and is a future that needs to be designed. It is not just going to fall from a tree on our laps.

We absolutely support and applaud initiatives that include other forms of mobility, however, the necessary infrastructure is needed. It is pointless beating around the bush and having wool consistently pulled over our eyes.

We need a network that connects villages with more than asphalt for cars. An infrastructural framework needs to be designed which enables scooters, bicycles, and walking, to be coupled with buses, taxis and ride-hailing / ride-sharing. It is totally non-existent right now, and so we keep drowning in our clogged roads and fumes.

You can read the full article on multi-modality on

The green way forward

The green way forward

By Matthew Bezzina, CEO of eCabs

It had to take a deadly pandemic to finally get the world population out of its slumber and embrace the need to save our planet from irreparable damage. Green seems to be the most common buzzword to emerge out of the ongoing pandemic but, by all means, it is justified. Of course, this is not a sudden change but a result of a slow process which has now reached tipping point.

For a few months, last year, around March and April, we were able to witness what it meant to have very few cars on the road as economic activity slowed down. The air was clear; the country, although eerily deserted, more beautiful than it was for ages. Asthma sufferers breathed a sigh of relief.

That seems to contrast heavily with the stark warning coming out of an NSO publication earlier this year highlighting the fact that this country has reached a staggering 400,000 registered vehicles on our roads. That number, being close to Malta’s population, is a wake-up call to all of us that we must now take the decisive step to move towards a truly green economy.

European Green Deal

This pandemic has taught us an important lesson: when faced with severe and immediate health risks, people responded. Because we believed that the virus posed such a risk, we took action, collectively. Previously, while most of us are, to a certain extent, aware that the world faced a climate emergency, there was no feeling of immediate concern and action was slow. This has now changed.

Sustainability has been abused as a term for a couple of decades at least but it lies at the heart of the changes we will need to embark upon. Our future and that of our children will be significantly affected by the flights and trips we avoid, the quality of the household goods we choose to buy (or not to), the kind of electricity we use and how we dispose of our waste. Each to his or her own but that will drive real change on a large scale.

The good thing about all this is that, as a nation, we are not alone in this vision. Over the past months, the European Union has pushed forward an unprecedented Green Deal, which has tied considerable EU funding to the green transition. This will hopefully provide us, as a country, with the necessary boost, resource and financial-wise, to prop up the measures we take locally.

However, no government can bring this change alone and neither can a handful of private companies. This will require collective action. While, at eCabs, innovation and change are a raison d’etre of our own existence, we have witnessed the rapid transformation in people’s minds throughout the past months.

A ‘Cleaner eCabs Future’

The experience of people sharing stories of what should have been a normal thing to do – like walking through a popular promenade without soaking up exhaust fumes from the hundreds of vehicles slowly moving along the road’s traffic – inspired us to take our innovative efforts further.

The events of the past year strengthened our resolve to cement our vision for reducing our impact on the air quality in our country and spearhead a ‘Cleaner eCabs Future’ in everything that we will be doing going forward, including in the future development of our owned spaces.

We are kickstarting this off by committing to an ambitious goal of fully electrifying our fleet by 2025, an investment that will be a substantial one.

I believe this is the future that beckons. Covid-19 has made us all more conscious that green is the way forward. Every business will, ultimately, take this road. If it is not because of intrinsic belief, it will happen because our customers, advisers and banks will, at some point, question our sustainability. We are committed to take a leading role in this drive.

Our nation, our families, deserve this.

eCabs human dignity

Human dignity must always remain a priority

Malta must adopt a proactive approach in creating a way of providing platform workers with basic protection. It must also safeguard their human dignity, says eCabs CEO Matthew Bezzina.

COVID 19 has exposed the ugly side of gig work. This has left vulnerable workers exposed to the brutality of operating in an unregulated market.

As the pandemic tore through economies highly dependent on tourism and travel, ride-hailing drivers witnessed their incomes dwindle. This consequently forced them to work long inhumane hours in deteriorating conditions. It also provided opportunities, and accelerated the rise of delivery, creating industries requiring new skill sets and adjustments to pay expectations.

On the demand side, customers also crave the convenience of meals delivered to their homes and offices and taxi rides that are just a tap away. On the supply side, workers grasp the opportunity to work in a flexible manner.

The gig economy is here to stay. In the spirit of fairness and sustainability, Malta must adopt a proactive approach in creating a ‘third way’ of regulating platform/gig economy work, and provide platform workers basic protection from unforeseen economic cycles, seasonal shocks in demand, and on-the-job injuries.

A thriving business should never come at the cost of human dignity. Let’s not wake up when it’s too late.

In the press:

Malta Today

People are the most important element at eCabs

‘People are the most important element at eCabs’

“People are the most important element at eCabs. In everything we do we seek a professional attitude and a consistent passion for the job to keep us at the forefront,” says Marvin Cuschieri, chief officer human capital and corporate services at eCabs.

Few might know that 20 percent of the 500 plus drivers employed by eCabs are women. That the company employs over 25 nationalities. That it has a team of in-house technologists. And a fully-fledged contact centre handling hundreds of customer interactions on a 24/7 basis.

Mr Cuschieri is a senior figure in the field of human resources, having occupied the role of CEO of the Foundation for Human Resources Development for six years. Now, as a member of eCabs’ top management team, Mr Cuschieri’s role is that of leading the human capital and corporate relations functions, covering the full spectrum of duties from manpower planning, administration, capacity building, systems implementation, business processes reengineering and facilities management.

“I say ‘recently appointed’ but really and truly, ‘recent’ is now already almost a year. I must admit, it took a bit of thinking to join eCabs. Transport and logistics was at the other end of the spectrum in my career and development pathway. But once I was exposed to the dynamic and technologically disruptive nature of the company and learned how the founders were devising to internationalise the business, I decided to embark on this journey and be part of this success in the making.”

Far from just a conventional cab operator

He explains that eCabs is far from just a conventional cab operator. The company is considered as Malta’s largest and leading private transportation company. Since its inception, it has sought to revolutionise passenger mobility and how people commute on this highly congested island.

Over the last few months eCabs has ventured into events, expanded its corporate accounts portfolio and is now offering the full spectrum of people transport. It has also set up its own captive logistics software company, Cuorium. Adopting cutting-edge geo-spatial technologies, flirting with the application of AI in its operations and venturing into the uncharted territory of consuming big data to enhance its trip optimisation capabilities.

People are the most important element at eCabs

“HR is the only function that touches every single part of the organisation in all its aspects. From the drivers whom I consider as the front line of our organisation, to the contact centre agents. From the logistics controllers to the back office team, support service providers and the fully dedicated team of developers building and developing our unique ICT systems and infrastructure.”

Over the past 12 months, a lot has already happened within the company’s human capital structures.

“And so many more changes are coming up,” he adds. “Currently we are taking the company through a meticulous restructuring process at all levels. Perhaps one very important change is the way we are running our human capital. Being a strong believer in delegation, one of the very first steps was to build a stronger middle management structure that can bridge the gap between the vision and the front-line, while putting a stronger spotlight on the important aspects of the HR support services so vital for such a company employing such a large workforce.”

A more holistic way of training

He says the company is also developing a more holistic way of training its drivers and contact centre agents with better induction processes and feedback channels. Their logistic coordinators have been given the opportunity to follow academic diplomas in management, while the developers get the space they need to keep abreast with the dynamics of their specialisations.

“For instance, one of our developers was recently at the DevFest Berlin, an annual community-driven developer event organised by the three GDGs where he had the opportunity to attend a number of sessions across multiple product areas, all-day hack-a-thons, code labs, and more. The holistic and most unifying value that we are trying to instil is that all employees belong to a common vision and hence why they understand the importance of being professional in everything that they do and not to just meet customers’ expectations, but constantly exceed them. Quality is key for us, while passenger safety is paramount.”

Nourishing a positive work culture for people at eCabs

He points out that the company managed to build a strong recruitment pipeline by taking an innovative approach towards recruitment and striving to build models which can fit with those of the workforce.  “We have made efforts to reduce turnover by for instance allowing more flexibility, rewarding positive actions, creating a stronger team engagement, and instilling a strong sense of belonging.”

“The fact that the company operates on a 24/7 basis means it is in a position to give employees the flexibility they need, something other companies cannot offer,” he adds.

“What I love about HR? Seeing people grow within their roles at eCabs, teams of people pulling the same rope and coming up with their own initiatives, nourishing a positive work culture, having a diverse company not only in gender and age but also in terms of nationality.”

In the press:

The Times of Malta

eCabs transport technology

Building a transport technology framework that is ‘future ready’

eCabs CEO Matthew Bezzina speaks about the past, present and future of eCabs’ transport technology framework.

Over the past few years, the landscape of Malta’s cab industry has changed dramatically. With just a few players on the scene, around 10 years ago Malta’s roads were introduced to eCabs. Since then, the number of people moving to Malta for work has exploded, together with traffic and increased overall activity. Further still, Malta has also experienced a boom in ride-sharing applications competing with eCabs. In the light of this, the Malta Chamber discusses how technology is shaping the company with eCabs co-founder Matthew Bezzina. It also touches upon increased competition has shaped its strategy.

Mr Bezzina’s aim is simple. He wishes to “build a transport technology framework that is future ready.”

He discusses the impact competition has had on his business. Mr Bezzina also speaks about the lessons learnt from a decade in the industry. Finally, he talks about the lack of regard to customer safety by many operators in the space.

eCabs is close to a decade old. What would you say the biggest unexpected lesson learnt from your experience in the cab industry has been?

We entered the industry at a time when the disruptive era was still to commence. In effect, locally, it was us who triggered the disruption. In that context I would say the biggest lesson was to continuously challenge the status quo. And also to drive change, based on the needs of the market, irrespective of the internal and external forces that will naturally resist change. Taking a cue from mother nature, species that evolve to adapt to the continuously changing environment are those that have survived thousands of years of evolution and change.

The technology behind how you deliver your service has changed drastically over time. Could you give an overview of the most recently revamped digital framework implemented within eCabs?

Initially, eCabs started from two booking channels. These were mainly the phone and OTC (over the counter) through our satellite sub offices in Paceville. In 2013 we introduced Malta’s first cab booking app.

This heralded the facilitation of the booking process and reduced the margin of error. Eventually, spurred by the technological advancements of international app based platforms, we took a bold decision not to rely on third party technology any longer. We built our own tech assets to make eCabs’ technological offering and our mobile app relevant to the peculiar needs of our customer base.

With constant releases and upgrades we are ensuring that our App offers a seamless user experience, from the booking stage straight through the customer exiting the vehicle. We are now on the doorstep of major technological breakthroughs in what eCabs stands for: the entrenchment of digital in our fabric will now be reaching new heights and deliver beyond customer expectations. Our aim is simple: to build a transport technology framework that is future ready.

eCabs has made serious efforts to push the use of the app, rather than have people telephone in. In this way, drivers find it easier to find their clients. It also serves as a transparent record of what the client has ordered. What would you say has been the biggest challenge and the biggest reward from the latest application developments?

First things first. Behind the popular 21 383838, a team of dedicated and passionate people run an incredible set-up . We do not just take calls, but we provide mobility solutions to our customers. It would have been easy for us to follow the same route as many others and just implement an app and let the customer sort it out.

For example, how could we call ourselves a responsible transport provider if we ignored the fact that many people still do not feel comfortable enough with technology? Our strategy was to build a leading-edge app whilst still maintaining our call centre channel extending the benefits of our technology to those passengers who do not use it. Needless to say, our vision is to accelerate the app usage not by merely talking about it but by exceeding our customers’ expectations.

We are a live showcase that competition is healthy! It keeps all the stakeholders alert and to a certain extent helps eliminate underperforming players. As a person who has the sustainability of the industry at heart, I instigate competition, local and international. I believe that no one is owed a living. We need to put our money where our mouth is if we want to be trusted by passengers.

However, competition can never thrive if there isn’t a level playing field. Unfortunately, over the past three years, our industry evolved into a veritable jungle with most of the mushrooming operations verging on severe regulatory breaches. Such platforms are marketing and offering their services to a new breed of self-employed drivers. These drivers have no employment or contractual relationship either with the platform itself or with the operators under whose permit the vehicles used are licensed.

Passenger Safety

This is giving these app-based platforms an unfair competitive advantage over legitimate operators like ourselves. Unlike such platforms, we are legally obliged to abide by a myriad fiscal and employment rules. Also, the fact that these platforms openly claim to have no responsibility over drivers and vehicles used for such services is a matter of serious concern from a passenger safety standpoint. It aims to exonerate them from any obligation towards their passengers or responsibility for the service provided. However, it puts at risk the safety of passengers and hinders effective regulatory control.

On the other hand, customer safety has always been our priority, to an extent that we will soon be rolling out a Passenger Charter and an Emergency Assist button on our app. A call centre and a control team manning and monitoring the operation 24/7 will complement them. Thankfully the government has recently issued a very well-thought-out reform document and kickstarted a consultation period. This reform will mainly safeguard the safety of the passengers and the sustainability of the industry.