Current Affairs
What is the best traffic solution – a monorail or metro?

The Government has begun to consider proposals which have been presented over the last few days by an international company, Arup, which was commissioned to present more long-term solutions for traffic and public transport. This is being done with the possibility that over the next few years, an investment will be made in a mass transport system such as a monorail or a metro.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said that, with the help of experts, solutions are being planned which will be eventually be made available to the public for consultation.

In another development, an experienced Maltese engineer and architect who has experience in structural projects in the UK, has taken it upon himself to create a map of a metro system which would include a line covering 25 kms  between Mellieħa and Marsascala.

At the moment, Infrastructure Malta is working on 10 main projects to widen or re-build roads with the aim of easing traffic congestion in certain areas such as Marsa, Santa Venera, Zejtun, Zebbug, Naxxar and Gudja.

Interviewed by TVM, Dr Borg said that these projects are intended to provide immediate solutions while the larger projects such as the Kappara and Marsa junctions, the roundabout at Santa Lucia and the Central Link project are more long-term.

Dr Borg explained that the Government’s future plans extend beyond all this, and in fact 18 months ago Transport Malta commissioned an international company to study the options for mass transport.

“These studies are at an advanced stage and in fact one can say that solutions have already started being drafted. the Government is continuing to discuss with experts in order to continue improving these proposals and eventually, when the time comes, they will be published in order for a public discussion to ensue.”

Dr Borg said that to date, the Government is not committed to any particular option for mass transport, whether it will be a metro or a monorail. He explained that the commissioned reports will be guiding the Government in this respect.

TVM sought the opinon of Dr Konrad Xuereb about the proposals which may help to address the challenges of public transport. He said that economic growth and the increase in the population and vehicles which Malta is experiencing is expected to continue placing pressure on the environment and our quality of life. He believes these may be protected through pedestrian zones in such places as Sliema and Senglea, and an underground metro system which would provide incentives to drivers not to use their private cars.

“The first phase would be between Mellieha and Marsascala and would pass from St Paul’s Bay, Bugibba, Qawra, and then proceed to Ibraġġ, Swieqi, St Julian’s, Sliema, Gzira, Msida, Valletta, Paola, Tarxien, Zejtun and Marsaskala and then turn around Zejtun towards the airport.”

Dr Xuereb said that a project such as this can be divided into three phases, with the second phase joining the airport with Mellieha with stops in Qormi, Birkirkara, Lija, Balzan and Mosta, while the third phase would join Mellieħa to Rabat, Gozo.

“Obviously this needs to be done following a detailed study to check the route and this would cost money, but very broadly speaking I would say this would come to 1.5 to 2 billion Euros,” said Dr Xuereb.

Dr Xuereb said that while this is an ambitious project, he pointed to similar projects such as London’s ‘Crossrail’ which is 118 kms long, which will be ready after almost ten years of work at an expense of 17 billion Euros. He said that a project such as this has the potential of obtaining funds from the EU and has a lot of advantages for the economy and the national healthcare system.