All the interviews, articles and blogs to do with Dr Andrew Bezzina, CEO at eCabs on the eCabs website will fall under this tag.


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

How eCabs registered 120% growth post-Covid

Surviving and thriving: how eCabs registered 120% growth post-Covid

In this blog eCabs Malta CEO Andrew Bezzina takes us through what spurred the company’s growth post-Covid.

The transportation industry, like many others, experienced unprecedented disruption during the global pandemic.

It was a time when roads lay empty, and the future appeared uncertain.

Yet, it is precisely during these breaks in time that businesses can find opportunities for growth and transformation.

At eCabs, we seized the moment to accelerate our investment in bridging technological gaps and doubled down on our strategy to take our first steps to internationalise our technology.

Don’t get me wrong. The complete wipe-out of the business was tough, very tough.

But in those difficult circumstances, we understood that survival meant more than simply weathering the storm – it meant adapting, evolving, and emerging stronger than before.

The result? Exceptional performance that massively surpassed that of 2019, our previous record-breaking year.

In fact, eCabs experienced a staggering 120% growth in ride volumes during the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in 2019.

This is a testament not only to our performance but also to the robustness of the ride-hailing sector in Malta, clearly mirroring the global trends in mobility.

A great resetting opportunity

Surviving difficult periods requires more than just resilience – it demands a relentless commitment to continuous improvement.

We saw a great resetting opportunity in the uncertain climate of the pandemic and decided to invest. Heavily, in technology

At eCabs, we seized the moment to accelerate our investment in bridging technological gaps and doubled down on our strategy to take our first steps to internationalise our technology.

Andrew Bezzina, CEO eCabs Malta

Between 2020 and 2022, the company invested more than €7 million in rebuilding our ride-hailing platform from scratch.

We did this with the aim of becoming the first international ride-hailing platform owned by a Maltese company.

We leveraged our platform to open up to the partner driver model and today we sit confidently aside some of the world’s leading players in the ride-hailing market.

As we keep registering month-on-month growth, our focus is now to keep repeating what led us to this milestone: continuously enhancing our product and service offerings, ensuring fast, safe, and affordable rides for our valued customers.

We do this because we really believe that ride-hailing is part of the solution to the most pressing challenges in the transport and mobility sector.

The next chapter

This year marks a turning point for eCabs as we embark on our ambition of taking our platform to new territories.

We are excited to share our knowledge and insights. After all, this is what earned us such a robust market share and is propelling our growth in Malta.

We are now seeking to enable global taxi operations to undergo the transformation they need.

Through our expertise and tech, we are providing corporates a reliable avenue for investment in diversification, and governments the tools they need to improve their transportation future.

We know what this transition is like because we’ve already been through it ourselves. 

This next step in the eCabs story would not be possible without the support of our partners, investors and exceptional tech team who, like us, believe that ride-hailing plays a key part in unlocking our urban spaces.

Looking back on the past few years I’ve learnt that the journey of eCabs is a reminder that success is not measured by the absence of challenges but by the ability to rise above them.

Adversity, it turns out, is not a roadblock – it’s a speed bump, an opportunity for growth, a chance to reinvent oneself, and a catalyst for meaningful change.

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

eCabs in record start to 2022

eCabs in record start to 2022

Maltese ride-hailing company eCabs has seen customer journeys during the first three months of 2022 grow by more than 50 per cent, compared to the same period in 2019, which is its best performing year to date. As the company gears up to expand internationally, Malta Today spoke with Dr Andrew Bezzina, CEO at eCabs’ Malta operation about how the ride-hailing company achieved this success and what the future holds.

“It’s easy to forget that just last January tens of thousands of people were in quarantine. Tourism and nightlife, our two main segments, were at a standstill compared to forecasts. To have emerged from such a poor start to year so strongly is a fantastic result and a testament to the quality and efficiency of the service we deliver,” says Dr Bezzina, reflecting on the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the business.

“Of course, we had already started to see a recovery in our business in the summer of 2021 when restrictions were first eased. But, the Omicron variant and, I must say, overly cautious decisions from various governments which heavily impacted travel, put a stop to that. Thankfully, things are looking a lot better now. In fact, the bounce back from the omicron variant is much swifter than initially anticipated and ride volumes in the first three months of the year are up more than 50 percent from those registered in the first quarter of our record year in 2019.”

Swift growth in customer journeys in 2022

When analysing the swift growth in customer journeys registered this year, Dr Bezzina highlights the increase in travel as a key factor. “With the airport once again becoming a popular pick-up and drop-off point again and an uptick in demand for longer rides, the average price per ride is also increasing steadily. This is paving the way for healthier EBIDTA margins”, he says, before adding that, “The return to working from the office and a generally more positive atmosphere is encouraging people to go out more, especially in the evenings. The further easing of restrictions announced this week is welcome as it will certainly further strengthen consumer confidence and further support the recovery in tourism.”

The current positive outlook would not have materialised had it not been for several key decisions taken at the height of the pandemic, many of which are proving their worth up to this day. “eCabs has always been a financially prudent business but the impact of the pandemic made us even more focused on taking a responsible approach to our business and operational decisions in swift fashion, and pushed us to continue fine tuning our operating costs,” explains Dr Bezzina. “A leaner and more dynamic operating model is certainly helping us to cope with inflation and the supply chain challenges that are now affecting Malta and the global economy.”

From a ride-hailing business to a technology platform

Aside from improvements in efficiency, a major focus for eCabs in recent months has been its technology company, Cuorium Technologies. “Becoming an international player in the mobility space means eCabs must continue its transformation from a Maltese ride-hailing business, to a technology platform deployed in various territories, serving customers and fleets anywhere in the world. We have invested heavily in this area over the past two years and the results we are seeing in Malta, with its complex infrastructure and demanding customers, prove that both our technology and our business model work,” says Dr Bezzina.

eCabs 2022 tech

Cuorium Technologies is, in fact, at the heart of eCabs’ plans for growth. “Our experience in Malta confirms that this technology can be taken into any market and we’re now working hard to raise the funding we need to move into carefully selected international markets. Whilst the interest has been extremely positive from various corners of the world, strategy leads our decisions.”

Partner Drivers

“2022 has started very well for eCabs and the outlook for our Malta operations is very positive. On this basis we have set ourselves the ambitious target of doubling the number of journeys we delivered in 2019. This, inevitably, means that we need to attract as many partner drivers as we can. We already have more than 1,400 partner drivers in Malta using our platform and will continue doing all we can to offer the best possible working conditions. Our engagement with drivers is also key to reducing the carbon footprint of our business as we work towards fulfilling our commitment to have a fully electric and hybrid fleet by 2025, something which is a key strategic priority for us. This year, eCabs will also be buying 15 electric vehicles for its own fleet,” continues Dr Bezzina.

The eCabs Malta CEO concludes, “A stronger than ever post pandemic recovery remains our key priority but despite the challenges, we didn’t lose sight of our long-term strategic goal. eCabs is merging from this challenging period in the best shape ever and is ready for an exciting and prosperous future.”

In the press:

Malta Today | Business Today

eCabs restructuring

eCabs announce restructuring & appointment of new CEO for Malta operation

Matthew Bezzina to lead the internationalisation of the Company after restructuring.

Leading ride-hailing and technology company eCabs has appointed the leadership team that will be executing its growth programme both locally and internationally as the Company is preparing itself to establish operations in international markets in the next 12-24 months.

As CEO for Cuorium Technologies, eCabs Technology arm, and the leader for global operations, Matthew Bezzina will be spearheading the internationalisation efforts for eCabs technology platform. Co-founder Andrew Bezzina replaces him as CEO for the local ride-hailing operations, in a period that is registering record performance and an ever-growing team of partner drivers.

In his forecast for 2022 and beyond for the local brand, Andrew Bezzina explained how despite all the challenges, 2022 is seeing eCabs registering double-digit growth on its best performance, a clear result of the company’s investments across all its business units.

“Our technology platform is continuously growing and improving with over 1,400 partners driving on our platform locally, a number that has exponentially grown over the last 12 months and which keeps growing. Local triple-digit year-on-year growth remains an ambition we are relentlessly working towards in the forthcoming years,” he added.

Restructuring and investment in its tech platform

The last two years have also seen eCabs accelerating its investment in its technology platform, as it positions itself to launch its technology in the exciting and growing international ride-hailing industry. The pipeline of investors and potential partners in the company’s target territories for its first wave of global growth is extremely encouraging.

“Forecasts state that the European ride-hailing market is to enjoy an annual growth rate of 12.5 percent. This is worth an estimated €45 billion in 2022. By 2025, Europe forecasts a mobility market of 160 million people, which is just 20% of its total population and still predominantly using offline channels – figures that show a global industry that is still in its infancy, with substantial growth opportunities,” Matthew Bezzina said.

Whilst eCabs’ principal interest remains that of launching the brand in different territories, the company also offers white-labelled software solutions to brands in any territory. “The leadership team we have put in place is already reaping its benefits. We are better positioned to keep growing our business. Thereby making make a national success out of our home-grown efforts in the digital space” Matthew concluded.

In the press:
Malta Today | Times of Malta | Who’s Who

eCabs Eco sustainable

Sustainable mobility: walking the talk

eCabs Malta CEO Dr Andrew Bezzina says that eCabs has reprioritised its vision towards a long term sustainable and cleaner platform.

March 2020 changed the trajectory of many businesses the world over. However, an uncontrollable situation that gave us eerily quiet roads, also gave us cleaner oxygen and clearer air.

Nature was given the time and space needed to blossom with balances restored on land, air and sea. We learned to love what we miss so much in our country. The countryside walks with our families and the nature that we have come to take for granted over the years.

In many ways that situation contributed to the resetting of our thinking around the boardroom table. It saw us reprioritise, amongst many things, our vision towards a long term sustainable and cleaner platform. This is at the core of our Environmental, Social & Governance agenda.

Having a local operation that runs entirely on electric and hybrid vehicles by 2025 is no mean feat. It presents many challenges and relies on multiple stakeholder responsibilities.

Pilot project

Earlier this year we launched a pilot project. We invested in a multi-branded fleet of fully electric vehicles to test and to determine the operational and commercial suitability of EV’s in a 24/7 operational context on our challenging road network.

In eight months, we test covered 150,000kms, consuming 18,000KwH of electricity, translating to 0.12KwH per kilometre travelled. In the process, we saved 7.3 tonnes in CO2 emission versus an internal combustion engine (ICE). Additionally, we also benefited from economic savings of 65% of the fuel costs.

With a fully electric eCabs fleet, these CO2 savings would go up to over 650 tonnes p.a. More than quadruple that had we to manage to incentivise and convince all our partner drivers to follow suit. The process also saw us benefiting from 60% in cost savings for maintenance and servicing.

Incentives for all ECO rides

Having over 1,000 partner drivers on our platform in Malta, we launched a financial incentive for all with a reduced commission rate charged for all ECO rides. We thereby made a direct financial contribution towards the attainment of these goals. In doing this, we have added more incentives to the existing government grants for partner drivers to invest in cleaner vehicles.

As we work at gradually decommissioning ICE vehicles and replacing them with Electric Vehicles (EVs), we will continue to incentivise our partner drivers to do the same with their vehicles. Our goal is to complete the full transition by 2025.

Of course, no project of this sort comes without challenges. The largest challenge we collectively face as a nation revolves around the county’s charging infrastructure with vehicle range coming into play.

A long term sustainable solution

To give some important context, between the EV brands tested, we resulted with an average range of 290kms, running a half-day on a full charge. That is 55% less than a full tank of fuel in an ICE, and just about serves our range requirements today. By this summer we will need to close that 55% deficit.

On a positive note, we have commenced tests on a new set of EVs. These tests are estimated to solve this range issue . However, the long-term solution comes in the form of a mix of fast and normal charging cycles for a healthy battery lifetime – an important factor with manufacturers’ battery guarantees covering eight years or 160,000 kms, whichever comes first.

The country’s charging infrastructure would therefore be best planned for fast charging. This would leave the 8-10hr charging cycle at the base, or the home in the case of consumers.

It will however also come with its trade-offs. Existing parking spots would need to be given up for EV charging spaces. And we all know that parking is in short supply.

“We need to be more serious about this vision”

For larger fleet operators, there are also limitations on how many chargers can be installed on a standard 3-phase electricity meter. Fleet operators will inevitably have to invest in their own substations, with a hefty investment of around €150,000.

We are already drawing up outline plans for an electricity substation at our logistics centre. Additionally, we have held discussions with the government. They have confirmed plans for such substations to be partially funded via grants or tax credits.

As a country, we need to be more serious about this vision. With a growing population and with consumption on a constant long-term growth rate, we need to acknowledge that these important changes are an absolute must. This will require national commitment and the execution of a plan which doesn’t waver every year or two.

Greenwashing and skin-deep changes will not cut it. All stakeholder at multiple levels need to address a national transition to EVs.

Build and shaping tech for a sustainable future

As the main orchestra conductor, the Maltese Government does not have it easy. However important stakeholders also include consumers who ultimately affect demand, and by default shape supply. Fleet operators will need to be ready to invest in and anticipate the demand generated. In the meantime, we will continue to build and shape the technology that addresses our industry’s challenges, remaining committed to the investment needed in EVs and the infrastructure required to make it work.

Let us however make no mistake. Sustainable efforts by single companies will be futile unless all stakeholders complement them by a concerted effort and commitment. As we remain committed to the cause, we are also confident that all stakeholders can and will come together to effect change and walk the talk.

In the press:

The Times | Malta Business Weekly