Not all heroes wear capes, but if you’re daring enough to get into your car every day and brave the Maltese rush hour traffic, then you certainly deserve one.
As you nervously balance between the clutch and gas for the hundredth time in the span of a few metres, you will start your battle with the five stages of grief; Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining and Acceptance. It’s around the bargaining stage, when we all decide to get creative, looking for ways to fix the ‘traffic-jam Malta dilemma’.
It starts off by trying to convince one of your bewildered passengers that everything can be fixed by implementing a new mode of transportation across the island. It’s only after a while that you realise you’re arguing with a picture that your grandmother made you promise to keep in your car of some santa (glaring smugly at you) whilst you pray for divine intervention.
We’re here to get you over that last hurdle and push you into that final sweet stage of acceptance. To tell you that all the ideas you may have thought up will never see the light of day, and are simply doomed to fail… or are they? Let’s look at Malta’s options – and how expensive / difficult it is to implement.
1. Underground (Tube)
Difficulty of Implementation: 5/5
The underground train system is a staple of metropolitan cities around the world. It is one of the most efficient ways of keeping people away from their cars and lessening the burdens of traffic on the city. Implementing this in Malta would be a triumph, both of design and engineering… so keep dreaming.
If we take into the consideration the substantial amount of money, planning and construction required across our island to lay a network of sophisticated underground interlinking tunnels (with trains running through them constantly), then one might start to feel overwhelmed.
Apart from these issues, we unfortunately do not have the amount of people required for an investment of this size. With other countries like London having a population of over eight million (that’s eight with six zeroes), and tourist levels continually hitting new records every year; underground trains are ideal, as they both generate a healthy revenue, and provide the masses with a great transportation option.
Difficulty of Implementation: 4.5/5
Famously (and for all you new generation kids) Malta has already had a railroad system. Operating for around 50 years, the train travelled from Valletta, through Msida, Birkirkata, Attard and Mdina. It was a single railway line, and known locally as ‘il-vapur tal-art’. Even though the possibility of a new railway system has been spoken about by Transport Minister Joe Mizzi, the chances of this becoming real, are unfortunately quite low.
Once again the issues of cost, planning, and implementation are factors that cannot be overstated enough with big projects like this. Already lacking space in most populated areas, the idea of building a railway to pass through the town, along with a station already seems close to impossible. Especially when you take into consideration the strategically placed ‘Maxims’ down the road may need to moved. God forbid.
Difficulty of Implementation: 4/5
Full disclosure here, I am a genuine fan of the monorail idea. Having a transport system on the island that operates away from the roads, just feels super ideal.
Not having to knock down too many building to make space for a new transport system, while having a reliable attractive alternative (with incredible views) to take you, and the hordes of summer tourists, around the island, is surely something worth looking into.
As much as it pains me to say, the cost of the monorail project, along with the deflation of winter tourism, and unattractiveness of the noise and design of a rail over your shoulder, puts a heavy dent in this alternative.
Difficulty of Implementation: 1/5
Mortality Risk: 3/5
Simple, affordable, elegant and a great way to stay fit and work on your Gluteus Maximus in preparation for the summer. Also, extremely tiring, sweaty, uncomfortable, and a high risk of injury navigating the hard streets of Malta.
The lax nature of bike lanes across the island, along with the deserved stereotype of the Maltese driver, (and the negativities of arriving to work half passed out, and drenched in your own sweat) puts a slight damper on the prospect of cycling around the island. Even mother nature laughs at you as you peddle up one hill, only to be met by 5 more before you arrive at your destination. Anyone that frequently cycles to work and back around the island is truly an unsung hero and deserves a medal, they’re surly a better person than I will ever be.
BONUS: A bridge between Malta and Gozo
As someone who travels across to Gozo only a few times a year, I certainly have no problem with catching the ferry. Truth be told, I’ve always found it rather fun. However, anyone travelling from Gozo to Malta on the daily, for work, school, or anything else, will be better versed in explaining the hardships of catching the ferry every day at times, when let’s face it, nobody should have to suffer to be awake.
It’s easy to see why people would want an alternative and to be able to simply drive across the islands, both for saving time and money. Nonetheless, from a conservative point of view, the picturesque beauty of both islands standing in tandem is something that would be unforgivingly ruined with the sight of a metal construction bridging the islands.
Hopefully reading this has helped you get to that stage of acceptance; there is no hope for us, and we’re all doomed to be forever wasting our lives staring at the back end of the car in front of us.
Please, please somebody save us.