As roads across Malta get widened and upgraded to keep up with the increasing traffic jams, an entrepreneur has come up with a novel proposal to address the elephant in the room, that there are simply too many cars on the island.
The proposal, the brainchild of Lewis Holland, has been cheekily dubbed ‘Vexit’ (Vehicle Exit) and has been checked out by an economist and an international trade specialist.
Vexit states that the government should offer to buy people’s cars at their market value and, in return, give drivers a lifetime pass for free public transport as well as credits in alternative transport (taxis, car rentals, car sharing, bikes and scooters) set at 20% of the car’s market value.
After selling their car, the driver will not be allowed to register another car for the next ten years.
The government will then roll out a tender to export these second-hand cars to companies in the UK and other countries which drive on the left.
The people behind Vexit have broken down the costs behind this proposal
If the average value of a car is between €5,000 and €10,000, alternative transport credits set at 20% of their market value will cost the state between €1000 and €2000 per driver, which is likely to go down to between €750 and €1,500 due to discounts taxi companies will probably offer.
It costs €550 to export a car from Malta to the UK but this could be slashed to around €250 if cars are filled in trucks and ships that arrive in Malta to trade goods and head back to the UK empty.
The difference in market value between the car bought in Malta and being sold in the country of sale is being assumed at a loss of 5% – €250-€500 per car.
Therefore, it will cost the state €1,250 (€750 in alternative transport credits, €250 in export costs, €250 in lost market value) to export a car with a market value of €5,000. It will cost €2,250 (€1,500 in alternative transport credits, €250 in export costs, €500 in lost market value) to export a car with a market value of €10,000.
If the scheme manages to remove 10% of the cars on Malta’s roads, that is 38,777 cars, it will come at a cost of between €49.5- €87.2 million, not including any additional costs that might be required to maintain the increased usage of public transport.
Also, since studies have shown that transportation results in an annual 600,000 tonnes of CO emissions, reducing the number of cars by 10% would result in 60 000 tonnes less in CO2 emissions, a very similar benefit to the one claimed by the government’s current road projects.
And while this is a significant cost, it is a fraction of the €700 million that has been committed to rebuild the island’s road network and without the negative side-effects on the environment.
Vexit assumes a good chunk of drivers will voluntarily give up their cars after weighing out the financial benefits of such a move.
They will be able to sell their cars at market value, get a 20% premium in credits added onto it and save money in insurance and car license fees, as well as maintenance, fuel, parking and cleaning costs. They will also never pay for public transport again in their lives.
The scheme will have to include safeguards against abuse, such as drivers registering another car in a relative’s name. It could envisage possible limitations, such as focusing it only on older and higher polluting cars or cars with a lower market value and opening it up only to young drivers, who might be more comfortable adapting and refrain from registering a car when they reach the driving age of 18.
It could also come hand in hand with disincentives for private car use, such as an increase in car registration taxes and license fees.
If even 5-10% of drivers take up this scheme, the effects on traffic could be felt very quickly, in a manner of weeks and months when compared to the years of the ongoing road infrastructure works. It will be a significantly cheaper policy, it won’t harm the environment and it won’t disrupt the current traffic flows.
“Infrastructure projects are needed in the long term for the country, and we do not discount their benefit,” Holland told Lovin Malta. “However, we feel a scheme such as the one summarised, or something based on the same skeleton, is needed to jolt Malta back on the right track.”
“The scheme drafted, and numbers, are based on early research and back of a cigarette pack calculations. As with all schemes it wont necessarily solve the problem for all. Further adaptations to the scheme would be welcomed to turn it into a feasible and successful solution.”