Rationale

Any system that would hope to address the issues regarding the state of public transport in Malta would need to connect primary hubs quickly and efficiently, while maintaining a good degree of connectivity to the remote areas via secondary infrastructures, giving them the required access to the larger hubs and main network.

MASS RAPID TRANSIT COULD NEVER WORK ALONE IN MALTA 

 

Most Maltese villages sprawl outwards from the village core, defined by the Parish Church, whereas few others occur as suburbs to larger towns. This leads to streets being especially narrow in the village core, with wider streets appearing towards the outskirts (the more recently constructed areas).


The major challenge is in the design of a supporting infrastructure which can effectively transport people from stations and terminals to their final destination, and vice-versa.

 

This infrastructure is critical in solving congestion and resolving current trends in car use. Without efficient and comfortable means of getting to and from the nearest station/hub, people would resort to personal vehicles. This scenario would drastically burden the rapid transit system and the surrounding road infrastructure, besides requiring massive parking facilities.


In order to avoid the complex design of this critical system, and for the sake of designing the rapid transit network, an adequately functional supporting infrastructure was assumed.




  THE CASE FOR GRADE-SEPARATED PUBLIC TRANSPORT

 

The major problem with the current public transport system (and bicycle lanes) is that it shares the road infrastructure with private vehicles. This is a nuisance to private car drivers and aggravates the congestion problem because public buses move slower, are harder to overtake, and sometimes block roads while taking on passengers. From the buses' point of view, traffic is a major obstacle to providing a punctual and competitive means of transport.


Studies have shown that certain roads and junctions reach saturation point during rush hour periods. Junctions may be redesigned and roads widened to improve flow to relieve acutely congested areas. However, Malta's dense urban fabric as well as frequent sites of archaeological or natural importance complicate these operations. The ongoing introduction of bus lanes on existing roads shows that improvements to the road infrastructure are possible and can be very cost effective for buses. On the other hand, the short and problematic use of accordion or "bendy-buses" between 2011 and 2013 indicate that introducing light rail on to road infrastructure would be probably be problematic.

 

The ideal grade-separated solution would be a combined over-ground and underground system that would connect to urban hubs at their core, while emerging above ground in less densely populated areas to cut costs.   One way of reducing the cost of a grade-separated hybrid would be by using light rail technology. Elevated light rail (similar to London's DLR), however, would require a much wider supporting structure; making it unfit for the compact Maltese urban fabric.  


Given this predicament, supported by case studies and other research, the authors believe that an over-ground monorail could pass through areas which are less sensitive and may be combined with a road-level feeding infrastructure more suited to dense urban fabric.

 
Same grade mass transit would require widening of roads and multiple crossings.
 
Sharing infrastructure inevitably increases the risk of accidents and road congesion

Transport Statistics 

The original route (November 2012) was based on the   National Household Travel Survey (2010) , which is publicly accessible. This document was issued just before the introduction of Arriva in 2011, so no concrete data was available regarding the effects this change had on the demand for public transport at the time of the Maltarail study.


Speculations were that initially there was a decrease in demand, in continuing with previous trends as indicated in the study by Warren & Enoch (2010). The latest related document is Transport Statistics 2014,  published by the National Statistics Office