Maltese population sums up to circ. 500k as per last national statistics. And registered cars? We have 350k of them, and if we exclude all under-aged citizens, that sums up to more than 1 car per adult individual.
Tomorrow marks the first day of European Mobility Week, and we have talked to Suzanne Maas – Project Manager at the EIT Climate-KIC & Urban Mobility Hub Malta, The hub shall also be organising a discussion seminar on sustainable mobility.
Too much focus on electric cars
Transport Ministry and Energy Ministry are issuing several initiatives for electric cars. But when it comes to less expensive and more accessible systems of transport such as ebicycles and electric scooters, these seem to be less prioritised. Do you agree with this? Do you know of any initiatives by the government to push towards more accessible modes of sustainable transport?
“Indeed, the promotion of electromobility in Malta is focusing quite strongly on electric cars. We believe electric cars can be part of the solution, but are definitely not the only solution! Transport Malta however does also have schemes in place to support people to purchase other electric vehicles, such as electric bicycles, cargo-bikes, mopeds and motorcycles. The Finance Ministry offers an additional grant on the purchase of bicycles and electric bicycles.
While electric vehicles can be a solution to reduce emissions and local air pollution, it still depends on where and how the electricity is generated (whether this is through renewable sources or fossil fuels. Additionally, replacing an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle with an electric one, doesn’t address other concerns associated with car dependence, such as take-up of public space (road and parking space), congestion issues and road safety concerns.
To address the myriad transport problems we face, we need to promote a combination of different solutions; not only investment in the electrification of transport. Examples include investment in more space-efficient, clean and agile mobility solutions, such as the promotion of fast and reliable public transport, as well as the creation of safe and attractive spaces for walking, cycling and micro-mobility. “
Improve an infrastructure that promotes sustainable transport solutions
Compared to other previous years, do you see a kindling interest from private stakeholders/companies to invest in more sustainable transport measures?
“In the last 5 years, a number of new mobility innovations have entered the scene in Malta, significantly broadening the options for people to travel from A to B. Think of shared mobility services such as bicycle-, car- and scooter-sharing such as Nextbike, GoTo, Whizascoot and Bolt, ride-sharing solutions such as Cool Ridepooling, and multi-modal integration of transport services by Malta Public Transport, such as using the Tallinja card for different modes of transport – bus, e-bicycles, ferries etc.
Malta Public Transport is also researching the potential implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit line in Malta, which would include a dedicated lane to provide high-frequency public transport connections. In recent years, there has also been some investment in new cycling paths, such as in Marsa and Luqa. However, this infrastructure is not yet connected to a complete safe cycling network, a prerequisite for people of all ages to feel safe enough to cycle. To promote the oldest and simplest form of mobility – walking – there is a need to create safer spaces for walking, with improved pavements and crossings, and reduced speed limits.
The Slow Streets project by the Local Councils Association is proposing changes to the urban environment in localities around Malta and Gozo to create safer and more attractive spaces for people to walk and play in their towns. Some entities, such as the University of Malta and the Planning Authority have developed a Green Travel Plan for their organisation, to support their staff (and students) to adopt greener travel modes to reach their destination, by providing information, financial support and shared mobility services. The pandemic has made more people aware of the importance of good air quality and physical activity and exercise, both for physical and mental health. It has also enabled many organisations to see the benefits of remote working, reducing the need to commute on a daily basis, and while some of us are now back to the office some days of the week, many entities have now put in place more flexible remote working arrangements for their employees. “
A seminar event is being organised by the same Hub along with Transport Malta – the latter has shown lots of co-operation for such initiatives over the past years. The event will see a 3-panel board discussing sustainable mobility and aims to convey ideas, suggestions and address any concerns to finally push towards the implementation of sustainable mobility policies in Malta.
We are excited to see so many tangible solutions put forward by such dedicated individuals. We want a greener, healthier Malta. If you do too, share the awareness of what this Hub is doing towards sustainable transport solutions – towards a better quality of life.