As getting to – and parking at – University continues to become a bigger problem to students all over Malta, KSU (Kunsill Studenti Universitarji) have proposed a number of radical new changes for the new semester. And while many students seem to have not taken all the proposals too well, others are welcoming them as a desperate measure in a clearly desperate case.
Since Freshers’ Week earlier last month, the student council issued more than 5,000 parking permits, but only 700 parking spaces remain available for students to use. Since a 2006 Local Plan states that no new parking boxes can be added to the University campus, KSU have instead listed down these new proposals.
The changes revolve around five major concepts; carpooling, park and ride, the Malta Public Transport Fund, motorcycles, and bicycles. Here are the proposals KSU are putting forward.
1. A new carpooling pilot project in Car Park 6
Starting from this Friday (1st December 2017), the upper area of Car Park 6 will be made available to carpooling students from 6:30am to 9:30am, arguably the busiest time-slot of the day.
This initiative – which requires students to prebook the night before and present their ID cards on the day – is being carried out with the help of Carpool Malta, a Facebook group launched by University students that recently shot to wide popularity and already boasts over 5,000 members.
2. A proposed Park-and-Ride site in Mosta
KSU said they’ve already talked with the Ministry of Transport and submitted their proposal to Transport Malta, with the potential site already being identified in Mosta.
“The site has space for both cars and bicycle racks,” KSU said. “The intention of the service would not be to cater for cars
only, but also to attract students that live nearby to cycle and use the service. Students
would have to pre-register to use the Park and Ride on a per semester basis at a
3. An extension the KSU Public Transport Fund to students over 21 years of age
The 2017 Budget already announced that students between the age of 16 and 20 will benefit from free public transport, so this initiative is meant to target those students who do not fall in that age bracket. KSU announced they’d be allocating €10,000 towards this fund, which is a collaboration with Malta Public Transport.
KSU are willing to pay for students’ public transport fees if they agree to forfeit and return their KSU parking permit until the end of January 2018. If the students are currently not in a possession of a KSU parking permit, they’ll be eligible to apply for this grant if they agree to forfeit their right to apply for one until May 2018.
Accepted applicants will be entitled to three months of free public transport during University’s second semester, with the maximum price for students being €21 per month.
4. Motorcycle learning sessions (with a 50% discount)
For the first time ever, KSU is organising a half-day motorcycle learning session. Under the guidance of a qualified learning instructor, students will undertake a 10 hour session to obtain the Category B 125cc motorcycle permit.
The total cost shall also be drastically reduced by 50% from the original €170 upon revocation of any University parking permit. KSU is allocating €5,000 for 58 students to benefit from this scheme.
Car Park 4’s motorcycling bay will also be expanded, allowing 30 bikes to be parked.
5. Increasing bicycle parking on campus and offering “the cheapest mode of commuting to University after walking”
KSU announced they’ll be applying for the Ministry of Finance’s Bicycle Racks Fund to install bicycle racks around campus. Of course, the student council is aware of the current situation on Malta’s roads.
“We are committed to provide basic bicycle racks, whilst appealing the
authorities to provide safer routes from nearby villages to the University of Malta,” KSU said. “There is
the potential in attracting hundreds of students to cycle if the basic safe road
infrastructure is first provided.”
For students who do not own a bicycle yet, KSU have struck a deal with Nextbike Malta to offer their annual membership at 50%. That means a student would only need to spend €40 to be entitled for an unlimited number of 30-minute bicycle rides for an entire year. “This is by far the cheapest mode of commuting to University after walking,” KSU said.
Nextbike already has three of its total 52 stations on campus, meaning that more than 20 bikes are available at any give time. The total Nextbike fleet in Malta now sits at 300 bikes. KSU announced that even more stations are underway.
KSU’s proposals, dubbed “Towards a Sustainable Mobility Framework”, have only been out for just over 24 hours, but have already received a large deal of feedback. The mixed bag includes everything from, “This initiative is tempting me to start missing lectures”, to “No one has ever even come close to offering some sort of solution, so well done.”
“Some students are obviously frustrated, but we’re hoping people will slowly understand and participate,” a KSU representative told Lovin Malta. “After all, we’re trying to plan for long-term solutions here.”
“I find it funny how people complain about waking up at 5am to get to a 10am lecture and yet still stick to the same mode of transport,” former KSU Vice President Mark Trapani said. “Cycling from as far away as Marsaxlokk to University will only take you 1 hr max. So I think the issue here isn’t the brilliant initiatives that KSU has come up with, but rather our unwillingness to step outside of our comfort zones.”
Carpool Malta founder Matthew Vella – who is a University student himself – issued a statement in response to the new KSU proposals, aiming to clarify some of the concerns which were raised.
“As with almost everything in life, this initiative is not perfect,” Vella said. “There are other areas which may be improved, and there is no one fit solution for all. But complaining and criticising and doing nothing will not improve the situation. We must accept that we cannot sit back idly and expect other people to solve our problems for us; we all must do our bit. Carpooling should be rewarded, and this pilot project aims to do just that.”