Public transport up, but number of cars keeps rising

Ritratt: DOI

An increase in the use of public transport was far from sufficient to increase the number of cars on the road, figures published by the National Statistics Office this afternoon show.

The Transport Statistics 2019, which assess the state of Malta’s transport during 2018, show an increase of traffic in Malta’s roads, seaways and airways alike.

An average of 73 vehicles per day were newly licensed in 2018, of which 55.7% were second-hand vehicles. By the end of the year, the number of licensed motor vehicles stood at 385,326, and that number has continued to increase since: latest figures show that the number reached 394,955 by the end of September.

However, the increase in licensed vehicles was actually lower than the increase in population, though only just: the number of licensed vehicles per 1,000 residents dropped from 782 in 2017 to 781 a year later.

The NSO estimates that the total distance travelled by all licensed vehicles in Malta combined during 2018 amounted to just over 3 billion km – translating to around 4,000 trips to the moon and back. Passenger cars accounted for 77.8% of the total distance travelled.

60.3% of licensed vehicles had petrol engines, and on a more environmentally-friendly note, the number of licensed electric cars more than doubled, increasing by 139% over 2017. But the increase remains modest on numerical terms, as the total number of licensed electric vehicles amounted to 926.

A total of 241,736 traffic-related contraventions were issued by police, wardens and Transport Malta officials, an average of 662 per day. In addition, speed cameras flagged 56,037 speeding vehicles, representing a daily average of 154.

Despite the increase in the number of cars on the road, the number of traffic accidents actually dropped by 4.2% over 2017, while the number of traffic casualties fell by 10.6%.

The number of public transport commuters totalled 53,467,404, an increase of 11.3% over 2017.

Increased ferry traffic, but fewer cruise ships

The number of vehicles and passengers crossing between Malta and Gozo increased by 7.5% and 7% respectively in 2018. A total of 5.76 million passengers and 1.66 million vehicles made the crossing, in 23,619 trips.

Similar increases were also registered by passenger ferries to and from Valletta. 978,754 passengers crossed between Valletta and Sliema whereas 107,795 crossed between Valletta and the Three Cities in 2018, representing increases of 6.8% and 4.6% respectively over 2017.

However, cruise liner embarkations from Malta decreased by 28.1% over 2017, while landings decreased by 24.2%.

Malta’s shipping registry remains the largest in the EU, but the stock of vessels registered under the Maltese flag actually decreased by 1.2% during 2018.

Passenger traffic at the Malta International Airport increased by 13.2%, while a longstanding trend showed no sign of abating as the UK and Italy remained the two most popular destinations, accounting for 13.4% and 14% of passengers respectively.