Tuesday 23 July 2024

A shuttle bus is a good idea on paper, but….

By Josanne Cassar

The news that no private cars would be allowed for the Ed Sheeran concert is a welcome idea and the first real step towards prying people’s grip off their private car use. But the options given have caused a furore because the shuttle bus being provided is against a €10 (round trip) payment. For those who have paid up to €200 each for the best tickets, this smacks of another money-making scheme. Surely they could have kept the ticket price down to a minimum just to cover costs (and given patrons more of an incentive to use the shuttle)?

There are also only 4 pick up points for the shuttle around the island (Qawra, Pembroke, Floriana and Paola) which sound good on paper, but they might not make logistical sense if you live nearer to Ta’ Qali than these points. I would have added at least another point (such as the Pama car park) to cover areas in the vicinity .

The other niggling factor is that you have no assurance of a seat; you buy your ticket online and it’s first come first served – given our bad track record when it comes to queuing and orderly behaviour, this is giving me scary visions of a stampede to get on the buses. So unless the organisers want utter chaos, staff definitely must be employed to control the crowds.

Option B is to take a cab, but those with a Y plate will only be allowed to drop off passengers at a point which is a 20 minute walk away from the main entrance. If I were going, this is the option I would take, making sure to wear comfortable shoes. However I wonder if this means that white taxis are going to be allowed to drop off passengers at the entrance, giving them an unfair advantage?

Either way, judging from the furious comments I have read and people already wanting to sell their concert tickets, this is a public relations nightmare, especially since it was announced so last minute. It is clear that the idea of having to walk (me?? walk?!) or using a shuttle bus to get to a concert venue is still an alien concept for many and will take getting used to in this pampered “I love my car” island. But if we want these mass events without mass traffic jams, it is the only sane way forward.

Meanwhile, if the organisers had any sense they would reassure the public about how the shuttle service is going to work…with only a few days to go, they need do some serious damage control sooner rather than later.

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