Times of Malta (or its individual reporters) helped drive the mad campaign against Arriva, and now report that the public will have to pay Eur30 million because the campaign was a success

Published: April 9, 2014 at 12:32pm


Shouldn’t they all have thought of this before? What on earth did they think would happen when they finally drove Arriva out – that somebody would come along and run the buses for free?

The public is footing the bill. Nobody else wants to do the job. The Scottish company that showed interest beat a hasty retreat when its executives realised after some meetings that the Maltese government ‘is not European in the way it does business’ (read what you will into that).

The campaign against Arriva was masterminded and driven by the Labour Party to undermine its political opponents. Certain reporters played along with it, either wittingly or unwittingly, but definitely very stupidly.

Do you remember how the buses we always called buses suddenly became ‘Arriva’? An ‘Arriva bus crashed’, ‘an Arriva bus was involved in an accident’ – but a bus is a bus is a bus, and those were no less public buses than they were under the previous system.

The time-honoured ‘gejt bil-bus’ suddenly became, as the term was fed into the system, ‘gejt bl-Arriva’ – as though there was another public bus network and these people had to be specific about which provided they used.

39 Comments Comment

  1. watchful eye says:

    Why is this article hidden away from the headlines? One has to dig in the ‘more national’ section to see this article.

    Other articles against Arriva used to get front page prominence on Times of Malta.

    We even had polls to discredit Arriva and the minister. How very different now. Why?

    • Angus Black says:

      “How very different now. Why?”
      Because the standards strictly adhered to in Strickland’s time have long gone the way of the dodo. That’s why.

      • Albert Bonnici says:

        Well said, Angus. That’s why I, for one, don’t buy the times anymore. It’s a waste of time. I get all the real news here with nothing hidden.

  2. M. Cassar says:

    ‘Infiltration tactics bypass enemy front-line defenses, in an attempt to destroy your opponents from within. The objective of infiltration is usually to destabilize and confuse enemy forces, target important enemy production facilities, or to soften defenses for attack by supporting forces (with heavier weapons).’

    They did not re-invent the wheel, just took on the role of an enemy and a destructive force while shouting Malta taghna llkoll. No wonder those that stole electricity are being protected, kindred spirit and what not!

  3. daisy says:

    Spot on Daphne as always. First Times of Malta fed what the PL wanted it to feed the people and now?

    Now we are seeing them trying to hide the fact that it was them who really pushed commuters against these buses. These silly fools.

  4. Joe Fenech says:

    Arriva found a situation that, by European standards, would be considered ‘unique’. This wasn’t just a company offering ‘buses and drivers’ but a company operating in a country lacking many basic infrastructures.

  5. pablo says:

    Why do I have that gut feeling that this contract is going to an operator who is going to receive a public subsidy much much greater than Arriva ever got, and that the justification will be, oh, the new service is going to be the best ever.

    The wheels on the bus actually do go round and round.

    • Jozef says:

      UBS asked for 40 million in subsidies. One thinks we’re bailing out some Swiss bank.

      The Gozitan operator asked for 2 million for Gozo alone. Nice fleet they’ll have there, to think Birkirkara’s population is as large.

  6. Chris Mifsud says:

    Typical Maltese. Hoover for vacuum cleaner, Biro for ballpoint pen, Kenwood for food mixer.

    • bob-a-job says:

      Nugget for boot polish, thermos for vacuum flask, sellotape for adhesive tape, formica for plastic laminate.

      Like wise Frisbee, Hula-hoop, Jeep, Jet Ski, Tarmac, Velcro and many others are brand names that we all use for generic products.

      To be fair though, this is not restricted to Malta or Maltese. It happens anywhere a strong brand name becomes a generic name for an item.

      There is a term for it too. It’s called ‘Genericide’

  7. Painter says:

    “The campaign against Arriva was masterminded and driven by the Labour Party to undermine its political opponents.”

    Not only that, but One News along with other news sites (including the Times of Malta) even went low enough to interview that attention-seeking man who threatened to kill himself via a hunger strike if Austin Gatt didn’t resign. Then it was revealed that he was a porn star from London known as Manu Maltes who came back to Malta because he blew all the money he made from making porn movies instead of saving it.


    Oh and bus 22 was replaced by Arriva’s bus 124 which has the same route from Senglea to Marsaskala so he cannot complain. There is even a bus stop just about 50 metres away from his house. I know because he lives just down the street from me.

    I even saw him on bus 124 once when I was going to the beach last summer and he started to rant to the driver and some other grumbling passenger and saying how it was thanks to his 10 day hunger strike that bus 124 exists. Yeah, right.

    It is thanks to people like him and the Times of Malta that €30m has to be paid by the public now. Not to mention the Labour Party.

  8. Caroline says:

    I tried a few times in similar Times of Malta articles to comment to them that this is what they worked for prior to the election. Of course, my comments have all been deleted.

  9. A+ says:

    Times of Malta (or its individual reporters) helped drive the mad campaign in favour of Joseph Muscat, and MLP won the election because their marketing campaign (of which the Times of Malta was a tool) was a success.

  10. Stephen Forster says:

    That all happened when the “enlightened” amongst us and Times of Malta in particular saw what they thought was the “fin d une époque” of the PN.

    What they now must realise is that they were responsible for a lot of the general-seeming malaise which was creeping in at that period and they knowingly drove the resulting daily bad press the PN was getting – for reasons which now seem hilariously low-key compared to the current regime’s gaffe after gaffe.

    I have not purchased Times of Malta since the election.

  11. A. Charles says:

    I bet that The Times of Malta will have a very bold headline tomorrow declaring that the editorial board of the newspaper was shit during the anti-Arriva campaign.

  12. Jozef says:

    Someone put up a comment saying the service to Mater Dei Hospital is courtesy of red minivans. As if the elderly, people in a wheelchair or women carrying prams can use those.

    I’ve come across a number of yellow buses belching their smoke, the memories.

    It seems clients are required to pass some vetting test by some of the drivers, otherwise they’re not allowed onto the bus, once again.

    And finally drivers have resorted to do their best to cause one to slam on their brakes. Indicators, giving way, stopping inside the bay a thing of the past.

    And look, traffic still hasn’t subsided now that Labour’s in power, no wonder buses still late. And what, in the name of rational, logical and gentile sanity, did Times of Malta expect? You don’t declare a war on public transport and expect usage to increase.

    Labour, if it was better they’ll spoil it.

  13. Bob says:

    Hallas Gahan! Taghna lkoll!

  14. bob-a-job says:

    And the winner is…..

    Austin Gatt + €1 million (Profit)

    Joe Mizzi – €17,448,828 (Loss)

    Wake up PN – A motion for Mizzi’s resignation is called for irrespective whether it will pass or not.

  15. Benny Hill says:

    The biggest factor which made the Arriva bus service less perfect than it ought to have been is still there, even after Arriva themselves have left – the Maltese. The Maltese roads, the Maltese bus drivers, and the other drivers on the road.

    I live in a city one-seventh the size of Malta, with almost as much traffic, and the bus service works like clockwork. Why? A combination of very responsible and law-abiding drivers, good roads, and well-trained bus drivers.

    Arriva were not the best company in the world to run a bus service in Malta, but most of the fault of the *perceived* shortcomings did not lie directly with them.

    I should also remark about the absolutely dirt cheap buses which were purchased. Almost all of them had something go wrong – you could see this even by looking at the state of the seating area, with many of them having the supporting column, which holds the bell button in place, disattaching itself from the seat. You never see that in the UK.

  16. ciccio says:

    My maths has abandoned me a long time ago, but when I saw those numbers amounting to millions I couldn’t help but put some logic together.

    So, according to The Times, the government used to pay an average of Eur 10 million per annum to Arriva as a subsidy to plug the hole between income and expenditure, and I suppose that was according to the agreement between the two parties.

    But since January 2014, the government has been operating the service instead of Arriva at an average annual loss of Eur 30 million.

    I suppose that the government will tell us that its service is very efficient, and that it meets the needs of the public. How on Earth can the government criticise a service it is providing?

    How can the government be that stupid to know how to do something better, but keep doing it in a way that makes a loss of Eur 30 million every year?

    So I am very sure that the yearly loss of Eur 30 million is what is needed to give an efficient service that keeps the public happy, according to this Labour government. Good.

    Which means that I am also quite sure that the government will not be asking anything less from the new operator.

    So I think I can now actually propose a maths exam question for the forthcoming O Level (or whatever it is these days):

    (a) How much losses on average will the new operator of the public transport service be making every year if they keep the same service level as currently given by the government?

    (b) How much should the subsidy paid by government to the operator be every year so that the operator covers its losses?

    Well, I think that the answer to both is Eur 30 million – why should it be less? So The Times article should be read to refer not only to the current losses being made by government, but the future annual subsidy to a private operator.

    I am thinking that had Arriva been paid that amount of subsidy, they would not have been compelled to leave Malta.

    • Pink Panther says:

      You’re making a fundamental mistake. That of assuming that the new company is happy with break-even. It surely won’t be. Therefore keeping your part of equation, the P variable (price) will need to rise.

  17. observer says:

    Someone recently wrote that in the forty odd years that he had been riding on public transport, there had not been half the negative comments which were raised during since the start of Arriva’s operations in our Islands.

    I do know whether that was the case, but I do recall that the only public outcry against the horrid pre-Arriva bus service in recent times was during the latest bus-drivers’ strike about six or seven years ago.

    I hope to high heaven that we will somehow be spared going back to those days. Some hope, indeed.

  18. Jozef says:



    Wonder what Muscat can do about this. And what about Sharon Ellul Bonici, is she in?

    [Daphne – I’m sure Kev will pop in to let us know of his wife’s plans.]

  19. orapronobis says:

    It appears that the term ‘Xarabank’ will be reserved to Peppi Azzopardi’s Friday night programme, whereas the brand name ‘Arriva’ is destined to become the name for buses in Malta in the future. Of course, unless the service is a success; in which case it become again ‘tal-linja’.

    • Joe Fenech says:

      For once I will commend Labour for showing some insight.

      • pablo says:

        He’s moaning and kicking up dust so that Joey will co-opt him into Marilwees’ old seat. Then it will be kisses and hugs again.

      • Joe Fenech says:

        Yes, it seems that that’s the tactic now. Indulge into some emotional blackmail with your boss and you get what you want.

  20. PWG says:

    It’s a fact that only 13% of the population used public transport before Arriva took over operations. It follows therefore that the greatest fuss was made mainly by non commuters.

    All and sundry had expected Arriva, because of its international reputation, to make a success of the operation.

    This includes the opposition, the local council’s, NGO’s etc, who didn’t utter one word of criticism or make any constructive suggestions both before or after the signing of the agreement.

    Arriva itself was so confident of making a success of it that it accepted stiff conditions and harsh penalties in case of breach of contract.

    Transport Malta’s fault was that it tried to revolutionize the bus service in one go and it was also guilty of raising people’s expectations. When things started going wrong the Austin Gatt haters had a field day, and fell over themselves putting the boot in.

    It has now become more obvious than ever that if the bus service is to run as a social service then the government subsidy has to increase.

    The Labour government, after all that unfair criticism levied at Arriva, was reluctant to renegotiate the contract with the company, even though they were best placed to improve the service under the right conditions.

    It’s about time that Manuel Delia, who is extremely articulate, picks himself up from the tsunami of criticism that engulfed him, and presents the facts to the public as they really are.

    • bob-a-job says:

      Leave Manuel Delia where he is.

      His arrogance and ignorance were the catalyst to the whole unhappy episode.

      • Jozef says:

        Delia’s failure was the interface. The system needed comprehensive pedagogic promotion and feedback to its radical take on the prevailing mindset.

        The changeover to the Euro and the recycling systems worked.

        To date, I haven’t seen one pocket sized map and some lessons could have been learnt, if 1950’s semi literate Malta could distinguish colour why not paint this capillary system?

        I suppose that’s arrogance to possible failings and ignorance of design communication.

        ‘…It has now become more obvious than ever that if the bus service is to run as a social service then the government subsidy has to increase….’

        He’ll kill it taking the country down. But maybe the intention is to sate some lobby which stands to gain from gridlock.

        How sick is it that the left in Malta cannot conceive efficient infrastructure as the method to free the socially oppressed?

        Access remains a dream, whole areas cut off, the inner harbour area a non-place surrounded by arteries feeding people elsewhere. Public transport is modern government’s priorities, as much as education and health.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        The only way Manuel Delia could have managed a flawless changeover to the new public transport system is with dynamite, a fleet of bulldozers, and another of car crushers. Then long term he’d need a vasectomy clinic.

        Geography. Demographics. Population density.

        I’ve given up trying to explain.

  21. Joe Fenech says:

    So is the little incompetent man going to resign?

  22. P Sant says:

    Do we know how much was paid for the Arriva buses? The government does not account for depreciation and therefore those losses do not include depreciation of buses.

  23. David says:

    The Arriva debacle was a textbook case of how to reform a bus service by turning it into one of the most inefficient bus services. And what happened to the thousands of euros paid to the consultants who draw new bus routes which lengthened most of the routes?

  24. Gahan says:

    Ed io pago!

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