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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Adventures on Arriva!

A way back in July, I reported how in Malta, an accessible public transport service had been introduced. Now, after using it for my 5th time, I can say that I’m satisfied on the whole but acknowledge that there needs to be better time keeping. However, I definitely think that the service we have today is far better than we had before.

For starters, riding on a bus may not mean much for the general public. However, as a wheelchair user who has been excluded from using public transport for more than 10 years now, it is progress. Again, it might not mean much for the average person but being with other people on regular transport does give me back some dignity. Don't get me wrong, I will still make use of the accessible van for work and such and I have made good disabled friends on my travels. Yet, there’s no denying that the accessible transport I use remains a segregated form of transport and inasmuch as it is improved, it still separates me from my community and was the only choice I had up to now.

Of course, the new accessible public transport is far from perfect. I spent one hour waiting for a bus the first time I used it. On later dates, the waiting varied from 15 to 30 minutes which is quite frustrating and forget getting to an appointment on time unless you plan ahead. And yet, I cannot really complain that much and you know why? Because for the first time, I can grumble and complain with the public. You see, my discomfort is a shared thing. It’s not just users of the ‘disabled vans’ they wrongly sometimes referred to) as) who are inconvenienced but every body (disabled or not!!

To wrap up, I want to make it clear that I believe that the service still needs fine tuning. However, if I had to compare the new public transport service with the one we had before, Arriva! wins hands down. Yes, it has been claimed that our old fleet with all the coloured buses gave them character. To this, I say, I rather want a bus I can use rather than one I can only look at as it passes me by. At least now, I can be up there with other passengers! after all, we must look ahead and not live in a past that so often is idealised and hence distorted.