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News : Calling For Your Bus From Your Mobile
Valletta, Malta, March 17, 2016 -- They had promised it when Arriva came in but it never materialized. Now it seems it is really coming. By next month, a Malta Public Transport media event was told, passengers waiting on a bus stop will be able to send an SMS with the number of the bus they are waiting for and at what bus stop they are and will be told how long they have to wait for the bus.
Later on, an App will be developed for smart phones which will enable passengers to find out the nearest bus stops available and detail the arrival time of the next bus, Transport Malta general manager Konrad Pule said this morning.
It will also allow customers to top up their Tallinja card and will include a journey planner.
But that's all for the future. In the meantime, the company was eager to tell its side of the story and the improvements that have been made.
All this improvement is much better than the situation as it was last year, Julio Tironi, International Director, and Konrad Pule, General Manager, said. The company however is still not where it wants to be and will keep improving.
As the only person at the media event who arrived on a bus, I pointed out that there is a divergence between the timings as listed on the website and as exhibited on the bus stop.
Mr Tironi admitted this. The company is still collecting historical data and thus the timings on the website may not correspond either to the actual timings and to the timings as listed on the bus stops. This is a learning process and such divergences will be ironed out in due process.
Also, the timings vary as to the hour of the day and also according to the season.
The company nevertheless believes there has been a huge improvement in the reliability of the service.
Mr Pule outlined the recent changes in the service. A few weeks ago, changes were made to the bus services to Mater Dei Hospital and the university. These changes involved 27 routes and 1200 bus stops.
More changes will come in on 17 April with additional services to San Gwann which is underserved by the existing routes. Further changes come in force in June.
The company tracks everything that happens and seeks to optimise the service. Everything is recorded, from the 200,000 stops made by buses every day to the allocation of buses where there is greater need. Such close attention points out the problem places and times and corrective action is taken.
An additional fleet of 33 12-metre buses is being brought in for summer. This is beyond what the contract with the government says.
The company is keeping an eye over what happens in the north of Malta where the pressure is greatest.
The company will be getting in a simulator to help in the training of bus drivers especially as regards skills and attitudes.
More supervisors are being engaged: 20 have just started their employment.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, March 18, 2016