All the blogs and articles on the eCabs website that have to do with transportation and mobility will fall under this tag.

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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.

No driving license No problem

No driving license? No problem!

I’ve been working in the mobility industry for over eight years now in various capacities. Yet I don’t have a driving license.

When I mention that I don’t drive, there’s a consensus that it’s strange and bizarre – to them. Not to me.

Allow me to explain.

I’m a TCK – a third-culture-kid. A TCK is someone who was raised in a culture other than their parents or the culture of their country of nationality. And also lived in a different environment during a significant part of their developmental years.

I was fortunate to grow up in Singapore, in a Russian/Ukrainian family. I also attended an international school that had representation from over 90 different countries.

This exposure fosters adaptability, resilience, and a unique perspective on cultural norms.

Riding around the world, without a driving license

Growing up in Singapore, I took advantage of the fantastic transport services, buses, underground railway (MRT) and occasionally cabs if I was in a hurry.

Driving a car in Singapore never crossed my mind. Not only did I deem it unnecessary. There was also the fact that Singapore’s Certificate of Entitlement system mandates a minimum payment of 190% of the vehicle value to simply be allowed to drive it on the road – even before you buy the vehicle.

From Singapore I travelled to the UK, to complete my undergraduate degree in London.

I found no need to have a driving license in London. I was lucky enough to spend my four years there in central locations. Everything was within walking distance, or just a tube ride away.

Part-way through my studies, in 2015, I lived in Casablanca, Morrocco. Casablanca at the time was seeing the introduction of Uber (which had seven drivers and I met them all).

My friends recommended I embrace the local red-coloured petit taxis. These were usually smaller older cars (pre-2000) that operated like an on-demand bus service.

At the time, a trip almost anywhere in Casablanca was less than €0.50. And taking an Uber was less than €2.00.

Arriving in Malta

I then moved to Malta to start an executive chauffeur service company. And frankly – when you have your own fleet of vehicles and drivers – I found no need to drive or have a driving license.

Now I work at eCabs, the leading ride-hailing company in the country. And lo and behold, I book eCabs whenever I need to go somewhere.

Malta has the second highest road density in the world, with some 18,000 vehicles per square km of road. Why would anyone want to go through the hassle of driving here? (Yes, I consider my colleagues who sometimes give me a lift ‘brave’).

How I justify it; or just do the Maths

As Kara Swisher points out in one of her NYT pieces, the ownership of a private vehicle will one day be as quaint as owning a horse.

Following Kara’s thoughts, I too don’t see the point in owning a personal vehicle.

Financially, vehicles can’t be considered an asset. They start rapidly depreciating in value the moment the vehicle leaves the showroom.

There are far too many risks involved in driving/parking it.

And frankly – even if you use it for an hour daily, that’s less than 5% of your entire day.

Invest in a good bed instead.

With the availability of micro-mobility, if I need to get somewhere, I ride an electric scooter* or walk (we have a great climate for that here in Malta).

If you’re spending less than €400 a month on cabs, you don’t need a car.

The business perspective

It’s been called ‘ironic’ as I work at a ride-hailing company, but is it?

Our clients come to us for mobility solutions. And corporate clientele are moving towards commitments to sustainability and providing eco-friendly solutions for their employees.

How can one truly understand a client if you don’t walk a mile in their shoes?

When it comes to eCabs, I use our cabs to attend meetings – and go through the same journey/experience that our customers do.

This ensures that I can keep a pulse on how our ride-hailing service is performing.

On more than one occasion, I’ve been able to point out simple things that would ensure a better service for corporate clients.

Such as ensuring that their Google Maps marker is registered correctly to allow for better route mapping and more accurate pick-up locations.

If I had driven myself to the client, would I have experienced this? No, but their employees using our services do, and it would have been overlooked from the get-go.

With Malta being what it is, I believe that every little effort helps in decongesting our roads and ensuring that we instil better mobility habits into future generations.

While others preach about change, I prefer to “Be the change you wish to see in the world” (Ghandi).

Looking ahead: the future of personal mobility

I believe we’re at the precipice of how mobility will be defined for the generations to come.

If we plunge into the future with the right mindset and considerations for the environment, the urban setting and start correctly factoring in the costs of owning a private vehicle, we are going see a continuous adoption of greener, shared and even, perhaps, viable autonomous solutions.

*This blog was written a day prior to the Government of Malta announcing a ban on rental e-scooters from the 1st of March 2024. Private e-scooters will still be allowed.

The crucial role of mobility operators in urban planning

The crucial role of mobility operators in urban planning

Urban planning is the process of developing and designing urban areas to meet the needs of a community.

There are far too many considerations to list them all and dive into them in a blog. Yet – the practice draws from quite a few disciplines; architecture, engineering, economics, sociology, public health and more.

‘Sustainable development’ as an idea has been around since the late 20th century, as advocated by the United Nations-sponsored World Commission on Environment and Development in Our Common Future (1987).

As I discussed in my Policy Development blog, the mobility operator is once again a key stakeholder that is still being left out of the dialogue.

Enhancing efficiency and connectivity

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have been used to map existing urban systems and attempt to project the consequences of change.

This approach is a slow-burning exercise. Whereupon historic data may no longer be relevant with the rapid change in consumer behaviour in relation to their mobility use.

Once again, real-time data that mobility platforms and operators have access to can be evaluated, to ensure that the behaviour of the citizens who are the key stakeholders of urban planning is being taken into consideration.

It’s currently estimated that the percentage of people living in urban areas has increased from 64% to 83% since 1950.

With cities becoming more populous, we must consider more than ‘how does one get from A to B.’ The question must consider how people navigate their urban spaces, for work, leisure, shopping, dining out and so on.

Antoine Zammit, an urban planning expert, highlighted the need for further collaboration among stakeholders in Malta at the Sustainable Transport: Adaption and Resilience in the Maltese Islands conference.

Leveraging the data

Mobility operators generate vast amounts of data related to usage patterns, peak hours, and popular routes. This offers valuable insights into urban mobility trends.

Urban planners can leverage this data to make informed decisions. Such as optimising public transportation routes, identifying gaps in infrastructure, and implementing demand-responsive services.

Tying in with the same pain points addressed with policy development, mobility platforms need to be integrated into the process of urban planning.

We have the data to validate decisions and provide guidance and evaluation of emerging trends. Ensuring that we can contribute to the acceleration of decision-making and improving the quality of life for citizens.

Poor infrastructure, congestion, and long driving distances negatively contribute to the quality of life. The more people who can move around without cars, the better for everyone.

Collaborative efforts can lead to optimised routes, reduced congestion, and increased connectivity. This will result in a more efficient and seamless urban mobility experience.

Addressing diversifying mobility needs

Since 2013, the SUMP model has been recognised as the new approach to urban mobility planning.

The model encompasses eight crucial principles:

  1. Plan for sustainable mobility in the entire ‘functional city’.
  2. Cooperate across institutional boundaries.
  3. Involve citizens and stakeholders.
  4. Assess current and future performance.
  5. Define a long-term vision and clear implementation plan.
  6. Develop all transport modes in an integrated manner.
  7. Arrange for monitoring and evaluation.
  8. Assure quality.

While the model has been around for a decade, and we’ve seen partial success in the adoption of the model in Spain, we’re still miles off. The lack of a common agency, institution, observatory or other organisation. It is not easy to know and confirm the successful implementation of this model.

#HarmonyH2020 conference in Barcelona, Spain – Simone Bosetti speaks about Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning recommendations and roadmaps.

An inclusive and sustainable transportation ecosystem

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is developing at break-neck speed. In part thanks to the low barriers of entry in micro mobility.

With the advent of alternative forms of transport, and the low-friction, digitised access – consumers have more access than ever before. And in parallel, mobility operators have more data to evaluate than ever before.

Access to this varied data can help develop an inclusive and sustainable transportation ecosystem that caters to the needs of all residents, including commuters, tourists, and individuals with mobility challenges.

Collaborating with urban planners allows for the integration of sustainable transportation infrastructure, such as charging stations, bike lanes, and pedestrian-friendly zones, resulting in reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality.

Different generations may have varying preferences for transportation modes. Baby boomers might prefer traditional public transit. While younger generations generally favour a mix of public transit, shared mobility, and active transportation.

Mobility platforms can offer insights into the demand for different modes of transportation, allowing urban planners to design infrastructure that encourages and supports multimodal transportation choices.

By considering the diverse needs of each generation, cities can create comprehensive transportation networks that seamlessly integrate various modes of transportation.

Ensuring equitable access

Generational differences can also manifest in terms of access to transportation services. It’s important to consider that not all generations have equal access to smartphones, digital platforms, or private vehicles.

Mobility operators can provide valuable insights into areas with limited access to transportation options, helping urban planners identify areas where public transit or shared mobility services should be prioritised.

I’ve used the example of ‘food deserts’ (an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food) before. The same argument still stands for mobility and the underrepresentation of access to mobility. Whether it be due to poor urban planning, lack of digital access or not having the right type of mobility available to use.

By involving mobility operators, cities can work towards creating equitable transportation systems that ensure equal access to mobility options for people of all generations.

Incorporating the diverse needs of each generation, cities can create transportation networks that meet the expectations of boomers, millennials, Gen Z, and future generations, fostering an accessible, sustainable, and technologically advanced urban mobility landscape.

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

What to know when looking up taxi near me

What to know when looking up taxi near me

Before you search ‘taxi near me’ on your phone or web browser, you should take some time to learn about safety protocols, fare prices and more.

These are some ways to ultimately choose a reliable cab service that meets your needs.

Safety first (and comfort too)

Make sure the taxi company you choose is licensed and insured. This is a vital step to ensure your protection.

Also, a reputable ride-hailing service will have made sure that their drivers would have undergone significant and in-depth training before they are allowed to take on clients.

Another factor that you should take into consideration is the condition of the vehicles that the ride-hailing company uses.

A reliable company will have well-maintained vehicles that are comfortable and clean.

Having an easy way to book your ride, such as a user-friendly App, is a definite bonus too.

Check out the different payment options on offer

Make sure the taxi company offers a variety of payment options, including credit and debit cards, as well as cash, and other digital means like Google Pay and Apple pay.

This will give you more convenience, reliability and flexibility when deciding how you would like to pay for your trip.

Reputation is vital when choosing a taxi company

Do consider the reputation of the taxi company. Read online reviews or ask for recommendations from friends and family.

A reputable taxi company will have a history of providing a high-quality service and will be more likely to meet your expectations.

Reviews and ratings should also be taken in the context of the quantity and quality of reviews it has. Three 5-star reviews may not be as good as 1,000 4-stars.

Awards, such as TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award are another thing to look out for.

Reward schemes

As a customer, it is nice to get something in return for your loyalty.

Reward schemes are also proof that a company values its customers and wants to go out of its way to ensure they feel that way.

With eCabs’ reward scheme, the more rides you take, the more points you earn… leading to various benefits.

Impeccable customer service

The level of customer service offered by the taxi company is also an important consideration. A professional taxi service will have friendly and helpful drivers and a very responsive customer service team.

For instance, did you know that eCabs has a 24/7 customer service with a phone number +356 21383838 that you can call day and night?

It is nice to speak to a human being when in need rather than just having access to lengthy FAQs. Emergencies are subjective and require attention.

They also have a Lost and Found department that you can contact if you happen to leave something in one of their vehicles, or the vehicle of any of their partner drivers.

Selecting a reliable and professional taxi service is crucial for your overall experience.

The right choice will give you peace of mind and ensure that you have a safe, enjoyable, and smooth ride.

What is multimodal commuting and why is it important

What is multimodal commuting and why is it important?

In this blog, we will explore the concept of multimodal commuting. We will also ask why more people should adopt this model in the near future, to enhance convenience, efficiency, and sustainability.

Multimodality is the use of multiple types of transport. These include walking, cycling, public transport, ride-hailing, and carpooling, which can be used to reach your destination.

With multimodal commuting, you can choose the type of transport method that is most convenient for you in any particular situation.

Multimodal commuting has a number of benefits, including less need for a private vehicle and reduced traffic congestion. It can also lead to decreased emissions, improved physical health, and increased flexibility.

Some of the most common modes of transportation used in multimodal commuting include:

  • Walking.
  • Cycling.
  • Public transportation, such as buses or trains.
  • Ferries.
  • Ride-hailing and taxi services, such as eCabs.
  • Carpooling with friends or colleagues.
  • Electric scooters or bikes.

How can multimodality improve our daily life?

Having the choice of which mode of transport you can use can improve your wellbeing.

For instance, by choosing to walk or cycle for shorter distances, you can contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

As an added bonus, multimodality can be more affordable than owning a private car. This often makes it a win-win situation.

It’s also easy to plan. The use of apps and real-time transit information is on the rise. This makes coordinating multimodal trips easier than ever before, providing you with peace of mind and a smooth journey.

What are some advantages of multimodal transport?

You may choose to use transport services such as trains for long distances. Ride-hailing, taxis or public transport would be ideal for medium distances. A bicycle, scooter, or even your own two feet, would be the perfect alternative for shorter journeys.

  • Efficiency – Using modes of transportation other than the private car can help reduce road congestion on the roads. This may lead to less fuel consumption, air pollution, reducing the carbon footprint, and so on.
  • Cost – Transport systems such as walking, cycling and using e-scooters are far less expensive than using a private car. Additionally, they are much more environmentally friendly.
  • Flexibility – Multimodal transport gives you the opportunity to select from a variety of transportation options when planning your journey. You can choose from buses, trains, cars, planes, and more to make your trip as convenient as possible.

Power to the people

It is a fact that most cities have been designed for cars.

With the concept of multimodality, you have streets which are designed for and serve people first, with their safety in mind.

This includes children, the elderly, all walkers, and those who ride a bicycle.

Many millennials and Gen Zs are happy to use various different ways of getting around, so multimodality is perfect for them.

Additionally, it can also help those with limited mobility. There are also some people who simply may not want to – or be comfortable – with driving themselves.

Finally, multimodality can be beneficial to those who simply cannot afford a private car.

By incorporating various modes of transportation, you can tailor your commute to fit your specific needs. This could be a short walk to a nearby bus stop or a bike ride to a train station.

This flexibility provides an opportunity to avoid traffic congestion, reduce travel time, and minimise the stress associated with commuting.

Multimodal commuting is environmentally friendly

From an environmental standpoint, it is definitely beneficial to get people to ditch their private car.

Using a more sustainable way of travelling can play a crucial role in reducing the environmental impact of transportation.

Lessening our dependence on private vehicles can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. We can do this by using modes of transportation such as cycling, walking, ride-sharing, and public transportation.

As we have seen, multimodal commuting has many benefits. It helps individuals, builds greener and more sustainable cities, and addresses climate change. This ultimately promotes a healthier environment for everyone.

Multimodality has the possibility to shape society and travel as we know it.

It is about time that we embraced it.

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.

Policy development and the role of mobility operators

Policy development and the role of mobility operators

We have spoken about MaaS (Mobility as a Service) before – its impacts, effects, and consequences on the future of transportation.

MaaS has allowed for the democratisation of access to mobility for all. It has done this by leveraging technology to provide a frictionless experience for anyone with mobility needs.

Booking a cab today is a matter of mere seconds. We have become accustomed to the fast-paced process as consumers.

Platforms and operators champion low waiting times and speedy service. However, we face a very different reality when it comes to mobility policies, their development, implementation, and evaluation.

Innovation, investment and integration

Today, we need to view mobility platforms as being part of the solution from a policy development point of view as well.

Policy development usually follows a three-step process, design, implementation, and feedback.

This is an archaic process, that fails to consider the necessity for fast feedback and adjustment.

The mobility industry is on the rise. The post-COVID uptake of micro-mobility has spurred innovation, investment, and integration with the current mobility policies in place.

We’ve seen partially successful micro-mobility policies implemented in Paris when it comes to e-scooters, with the guidance and support of the largest micro-mobility operators.

This was only possible due to the operators sharing their data on riders. Providing feedback to policymakers in real-time on the effects of the laws that they were implementing.

The implementation can only be considered partially successful. Safety was not enforced and eventually led to a negative perception of e-scooters in Paris. In April of 2023, Parisians voted to ban e-scooters.  

The role of data

When mobility operators are left out of the policy-making process, it is detrimental to all stakeholders.

Data has played a role in policy development for the last 20 years. However, it is usually an extrapolation of historic data. Or volunteer surveys that are then used to hypothesise how policies should be framed.

Naturally, one cannot wait, years in some cases, for a government statistics office to publish data to be able to take decisions.

With the data that we have access to today, as a tech mobility company, we are able to forecast faster, plan more efficiently and able to re-validate our decision-making at later dates when other data sources are published.

The granularity of the information – from how users interact with our products, to determining the most efficient way of distributing drivers across a territory to ensure low waiting times – further demonstrates the vast and untapped potential of mobility operators in policy-making.

The one source of truth

Mobility operators are the one source of truth when it comes to understanding how the end user chooses to use transportation.

We believe policies should focus on the improvement and empowerment of citizens. When you leave MaaS operators out of the conversation, it is a disservice to the citizen.

Even poor adoptions/enforcement of existing policies lead to bizarre cases. These slow down progress and hinder industry stakeholders from accelerating the industry forward.

When policies don’t make sense, businesses don’t invest.

Mobility is a capital-intensive, high volume and low-margin network market. So, the lack of enforced quality policies proves to be a barrier for MaaS and investment.

The cost of physical infrastructure (i.e., charging pillars), vehicles and maintenance of 24/7 operations is not a simple obligation. Especially when the operators deal directly with consumers and take on the responsibility of the well-being of their users.

The European Commission has formed a Commission Expert Group on Urban Mobility (EGUM). Its long-term objective to “help develop urban aspects of transport and support implementing the New EU Urban Mobility Framework”.

EGUM expects to develop the work programme over the next two years. With a key pillar focusing on data sharing for urban logistics, and how to support dialogue and voluntary data sharing between all types of stakeholders, whether they be public or private. 

Big data – a new opportunity

The utilisation of big data is imperative in the adjustment of existing laws and the development of new policies.

This would allow for reactive monitoring and adjustment of policies in a rapidly developing industry. Thus, ensuring that the governance of MaaS is vision-led and scaled to the right function urban area (FUA).

Big data is a new opportunity to ensure that when policies are designed, they are taking into consideration data from multiple sources and across the representative population.

GPS data has been used since the 2000s to help shape policies. However, it only provides information about what is happening. It does not facilitate further understanding of why a user may be travelling in a certain pattern or using only certain types of transportation.

The democratisation of mobility

We need to be able to tap into social media data to help policymakers detect the driving forces of people’s movement behaviour.

Furthermore, policymaking needs to further expand the scope of sources that are used to shape policies.

The democratisation of mobility also encompasses representation of all demographics within the population, from Gen Alpha’s through to Boomers. Each cohort is a valuable stakeholder that has to have their wants and needs thoroughly considered to ensure that all citizens are empowered.

Policies should focus on the improvement and empowerment of citizens… When policies don’t make sense, businesses don’t invest.

eCabs International Business Development Manager Ruslan Golomovzy

The idea of ‘food deserts’ (places where most residents don’t have access to affordable, nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) extends to mobility, where a certain type of mobility could be underrepresented.

Without big data and the inclusion of all stakeholders, we risk isolating these members of society and depriving them of accessible mobility.

We believe policies should focus on the improvement and empowerment of citizens. When you leave MaaS operators out of the conversation, it is a disservice to the citizen.

This would be disadvantageous to all stakeholders, hindering people from accessing mobility and delaying the implementation of effective and future-oriented policies.

4 great reasons to book a reliable airport transfer with eCabs

4 great reasons to book a reliable airport transfer

In this blog we list the benefits of booking a reliable airport transfer.

Going abroad is always a great thing to look forward to. However, it can also be a little stressful unless all your ducks are in order. One thing you can easily tick on your list is pre-booking a reliable, affordable ride to and from the airport. 

Here are the main advantages of booking a cab ride for airport drop off or pick up, whether pre-booked or booked on demand. 

Affordability

Booking a taxi airport service with a ride-hailing company can often be more cost-effective than renting a car, or even using your own, especially when you factor in the cost of fuel and car park charges.

Peace of mind

When time is of the essence, pre-booking a cab via the comfort and ease of your mobile app to get you to and from the airport can be a big advantage.

Going to the airport? If you book an airport transfer, you get picked up from wherever and whenever is most convenient for you.

Travelling from the airport? No need to worry about carrying your bags and getting your car from the parking area, paying for the time you spent there and then driving home (which is probably the last thing you feel like after a plane ride).

When using an app or booking online, there are usually various different car types that you can choose from, depending on whether you are travelling alone or in a group, and how much luggage you have.

Flexibility and convenience

Of course, there are other ways to get to and from the airport, such as using your private car, as mentioned above.

There is also public transport, which is a great solution as long as you can spare a couple of hours over and above, just in case the bus is running late, or it is full and you have to wait for another one. It also works best if you are travelling light. Starting off your holiday time clutching your bags while travelling with loads of other people is not the most stress-free of beginnings.

Safety and comfort

Booking a cab via your ride-hailing app ensures that you will be picked up on time and have a ‘tailor-made’ comfortable, fast, affordable, and safe journey.

Just book the cab, follow it on the map with the ETA fully visible and easily contact the driver at the press of a button should you need to.

Travelling to Malta? Book your airport transfer with eCabs

There are plenty of things to stress about in life. Getting from the airport to your accommodation should not be one of them.

If you are travelling to Malta, pre-booking your airport taxi transfers with eCabs means reliability, convenience, professionalism, cost-effectiveness, safety, and comfort.

The easiest way to do that is to use the eCabs Passenger App which you can download for iOS and Android.

Through the eCabs App, while you are waiting for the driver to arrive, you will be able to see precisely how far away they are, as well as the driver and car type/registration number.

You can even call the driver straight from your App, and, if you enter your flight details when booking one of our cabs, we will track your flight to make sure you are on time.

Cab bookings in Malta are very well priced, especially from a ride-hailing app. When using the eCabs App, you can choose to pay by Apple Pay, Google Pay, bank card or cash.

There are various different car types that you can choose from, depending on whether you are travelling alone or in a group, and how much luggage you have.

If you would prefer to book an eCabs as soon as you land, you can do that too. Nowadays pick-ups are so fast that ASAP bookings are just as reliable in Malta, with average pick-up times hovering around five minutes.

And when your holiday or business trip is over, eCabs will pick you up right behind your door. So you can enjoy a comfortable, safe ride to the airport.

Apart from the App, you can also book online.

24/7 Customer Service

eCabs is the only ride-hailing service in Malta which offers 24/7 customer service via its manned Support Centre which can be also be contacted by telephone on the eCabs number +356 21 383838.

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