Monday, 10 February 2014


Bus service call will allow double-deckers but no bendies - network may be split


Transport Malta is prepared to consider splitting the bus network and allowing more than one operator to run the service.
The option is likely to be included in the call for expressions of interest for the provision of a scheduled bus service, expected to be published tomorrow. However, preference will be given to bidders who want to operate the whole network.
The authority will also impose maximum dimensions of the buses that will be used, excluding bendy buses but allowing the possibility for double-deckers. Buses will have to be Euro 5 compliant and low-floor. 
This would not be the first time that the bus service would be operated by more than one company, or, indeed that double deckers are used.  Both featured in the early years of the introduction of bus services in Malta, with separate companies operating services to Sliema and Cottonera in the early twentieth century. Gozo was considered separately from Malta until the introduction of the Arriva service.


The new operator will take over the operations on Malta Public Transport Services (Operations) Limited, which has been running the service since Arriva's departure - three years into its 10 year contract.
“We’re looking for a serious company that can truly become the driving force of our country and provide a reliable, efficient and social service. It is crucial that the buses provided by a new operator are suitable for our roads, environmentally-friendly and safe. We want a sustainable service that works and succeeds in actually increasing bus use,” said Transport Malta chairman James Piscopo.
Interested parties will be able to bid for the exclusive concession rights until July 2021 with the immediate option to extend this to either 10 or 15 years.
The notice aims to identify a professional and competent candidate which can:
1) Improve the level of service in order to meet the public’s needs and increase bus patronage;
2) Optimise the efficiency and effectiveness of the route network, taking into account social considerations;
3) Add a number of buses to the fleet to meet route network requirements and replace the temporary coaches and buses currently in use.
4) Upgrade the existing information technology and communication systems to provide more effective operational control as well as reliable information for users and the authority;
5) Shift the majority of ticket sales to off-bus ticketing and regular travel solutions, drastically reducing on-bus ticketing and period tickets within one year.
All buses must be at least Euro 5 compliant, be fully accessible (low-floor), be suitable for the route they are operating on and must not exceed 12.5 metres in length.
The buses must also be compliant with EU legislation and not be older than 15 years at any point throughout the concession agreement term.
Interested parties will be required to provide detailed descriptions of how the operations will be managed, with specific reference to: timetables, bus fleet management, facilities, driver allocation, remote-monitoring, reliability and punctuality, communication and bus cleanliness.
The call for expressions of interest also makes direct requests for revenue management, fraud mitigation, vehicle tracking, fire prevention plans, health and safety plans and measures to reduce the number of breakdowns.
Besides shifting to off-bus ticketing, interested parties must also provide an outline of the branding and marketing strategy to address the current perception towards public transport.
The document also requests details of initiatives to be undertaken beyond what is required at law to mitigate the environmental cost of the operation other than the emission levels of the buses.
Interested parties are also given the option to bid for a group of routes or some of the operating company’s assets, although the priority remains to have one single operator operating the entire network.
The closing date for submissions is April 4, 2014.
Transport Malta’s proposed route network, based on the feedback received during a public consultation session, forms an integral part of the document.