National Express Group-owned subsidiary named as preferred bidder
MALTA Spanish company Autobuses Urbanos de León, a National Express subsidiary through ALSA (Automóviles Luarca, S.A.) has been named as the preferred bidder to run Malta’s public transport system. According to a Maltese government statement issued to the Malta Independent, official negotiations will begin in the coming days.
The Times of Malta reports that Transport Minister Joe Mizzi considered it ‘a victory’ that three companies had submitted interest in running the bus service. Mr Mizzi was replying to Opposition questions in Parliament during which he presented figures showing that revenue by the bus service declined in the first three months of this year compared to the first quarter of last year.
Earlier, the Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista, PN) expressed concern about the financial losses of the bus service, saying that in three months Maltese taxpayers had paid as much as the subsidy to Arriva in a year.
Only three bus companies had shown an interest in operating Malta’s bus service said PN public transport spokesman Toni Bezzina. It was a godsend that two Maltese companies were among them, as the government would otherwise have had to accept the conditions laid down by a single company. The lack of interest showed that the government had discouraged foreign investment with several companies having changed their mind after showing initial interest, Mr Bezzina said.
In a separate statement, Mr Mizzi said the government’s decision to hire 45 Euro 5 buses from the UK (Dawsonrentals) would yield a saving of €1.6m between May and October. The new operator would continue to used the hired buses and then decide whether to extend the lease, buy them or return them to the UK.