Gozo’s population must increase by some 50,000 people for a metro connection to the island to be rendered viable, Transport Minister Ian Borg has warned.
“Discussion on Gozo is constantly increasing in terms of construction and the proposed tunnel to Malta and everyone keeps saying Gozo should remain as it is, I think that’s the general consensus,” Borg said on ONE TV’s PaperScan this morning.
“Experts have told us that at least 50,000 people must move to Gozo for the metro be rendered viable. The population of Gozo is under 20,000 right now so imagine [the impact].”
However, he didn’t rule out that the final metro project could include a link to Gozo.
“This will be part of the discussion. We presented the best model according to experts, but perhaps politicians could one day decide to add a Gozo link despite this not being feasible,” he said.
Last night, the government revealed the outcome of studies for a Malta metro it had commissioned from London consultancy firm Arup.
The proposed network, which is estimated to cost €6.2 billion, envisages three lines – Buġibba to Pembroke, Valletta to Birkirkara, and Mater Dei to Cospicua – with a total of 25 stations.
Gozo has been completely excluded, with a new metro information website stating the island’s population must increase by at least 50,000 more people for a metro route to be rendered feasible.
“With a redesigned bus network as well as the introduction of new transportation means such as the Gozo Fast Ferry, Gozo is able to easily connect with the network without the need for the actual metro to cross to our sister island while still ensuring that Gozitans that work in Malta and have to commute between the two islands on a daily basis, are able to do this with ease,” the website states.
However, architect Konrad Xuereb has repeatedly urged the government to connect Malta and Gozo via metro instead of a proposed car tunnel.
Xuereb argued that the benefits of this strategy will be threefold – it will allow for faster trips between Malta and Gozo, offer cheaper rates than a car tunnel toll, and incentivise people to shift away from private cars.
“The government should be bold and say that once we’re looking at investing in a national mass transport system, it should reconsider its plans for a car tunnel between Malta and Gozo and use the tunnel funds on the metro instead,” he told Lovin Malta.
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