Speaking at a Times of Malta event titled ‘The Road to Reliable Public Transport’ held on Wednesday 22nd February 2023, eCabs Technologies CEO Matthew Bezzina said that the time has come for certain measures to discourage the ownership of private cars.
However, in order for these measures to be consistent, there needed to be political consensus between the government and other political parties to ensure longevity.
Mr Bezzina stressed that it is no use for one government to agree to implement certain measures only to see them ignored or buried by the subsequent government.
“If we’re going to introduce paid on-street parking, it cannot succeed if it clashes with the car-centric policy we’ve been implementing,” he stated.
Mr Bezzina compared the situation to separated parents who have custody of a child, saying that they both must agree on certain rules. “For instance, if they both say no to junk food, the child benefits overall. This is the kind of political consensus that we need.”
The real cost of ‘public real estate’
Mr Bezzina also highlighted that parked cars are taking up an overwhelming amount of public space. Here again, political consensus was needed to find a solution, he said. He noted that parking spaces take up two-thirds of Maltese roads. Moreover, 75 percent of parked cars are on public land.
“Those could be bus lanes, scooter lanes, wider pavements, or avenues of trees. We have to see the opportunity in these spaces and truly consider the cost of this public real estate. What can we do with all this space that cars are occupying without contributing anything?”
One solution could lie within the ride hailing industry, as part of a transport mix towards sustainable multimodality that can unclog the roads on the densest country in the EU.
Other speakers at the event included Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Dr Aaron Farrugia, economist Marie Briguglio, Malta Public Transport General Manager Konrad Pulé, and Head of Geography and Director of the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Malta Professor Maria Attard.
You can read more and watch the full event here.