Traffic is everywhere in Malta during autumn, on the roads, on my newsfeed, on the newspapers, on the radio, in my daily conversations…literally everywhere. With each passing year, the situation becomes more troublesome and aggravating, yet how can we expect to solve this issue when Maltese people are too lazy to change their lifestyle?
Malta is the laziest country in the world – FACT. According to a study conducted by The Lancet, Maltese people are 71.9% inactive, the highest rate for any country in world. In addition, Malta is also the most obese country in the European Union bloc, and the third fattest European nation after Andorra and Turkey. Even though I did scrutinise this study in relation to other health issues in a previous post, I did comment about how defensive Maltese people get when the original study emerged.
However, it is unfortunately true: Maltese people are lazy and don’t care about physical exercise. Couple this with a sense of entitlement, such as “I have a right to own a car and use it, so I shall!”, and then we wonder why we have a traffic issue in Malta.
Everyone wants to own a car, everyone wants to use this car to go to work, and then everyone proceeds to complain about how much time they are wasting in the early hours of the morning playing Candy Crush in a metal box behind other metal boxes also containing people playing Candy Crush (or soda Crush perhaps).
We often condemn the lack of infrastructure, when we should be really blaming ourselves and our inability to try and change our bad practices. No amount of EU funded junctions and road widening projects will solve the traffic situation in Malta unless people accept they they need to change their behaviour and start walking, jogging or cycling to work.
Not all Doom and Gloom
To avoid being too negative, and possibly offending some ‘fat’ and ‘lazy’ people’s ‘fat’ and ‘lazy’ hearts, here are some things that you can do to make the traffic situation more bearable for yourself and your fellow commuters – SIDE NOTE:- I am assuming that common courtesy and chivalry are not dead…
Don’t Drive your Kids to school (For F***s Sake)
Children have been waking up early for school for decades, but it seems that 21st Century children might spontaneously combust if they wake up before 7am.
Whinging parents will always use the ‘Vans are too expensive’ excuse, yet mummy and daddy are not willing to cut down on smoking, television sport packages, fancy gadgets, nail and hair appointments, online shopping, alcoholic beverages and so on and so forth.
It’s 2015, car pool already
I was one of the first people amongst my friends to have a car, so my first year as a driver was pretty much spent as a chauffeur. This wasn’t as bad as it seems, because it engrained a car pooling mentality that I still use with my same friends today. But obviously, everyone loves to have the freedom to “leave and return when I want, without having to wait to drive other people home”.
I used to car pool during my day at the University of Malta, and they have since launched a green travel incentive that has been horribly marketed (if at all). People from the same household who work in localities that are close to each other should consider car pooling. Please do, pretty please!
Lack of infrastructure, it is too dangerous, what if it rains?, too much exhaust, it is too far away, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, i’m so unfit, my legs hurt, qtugh ta laham – NOPE you are just lazy. The only legitimate excuse is if your employer does not have showering facilities, especially when travelling during summer. Having said that, most people at the European Commission cycle to work, and they do not particularly smell after their morning cycle.
But a typical Maltese person would be like “Mela ma tarax nimxija minn San Gwann sa tas-Sliema?”.
Ask to work from home?
This is more practical rather than travel related. If you are consistently getting stuck in traffic in the morning, ask your boss if you can work the first hours of the morning from home. Some work can be conducted remotely, such as replying to emails, drafting reports and so on. If companies start staggering the starting times of their employees, it would not only benefit the productivity of their employees, but also other commuters.
Try your luck with Public Transport
If everyone complains at how shitty the Maltese public transport system is, no one will use it and it will just get worse. We are inadvertently making public transport worse by not using it and creating more congestion through which buses cannot pass – typical negative feedback scenario.
And to be perfectly honest, Maltese people do not like to use buses because they are lazy: “Why would I catch a bus to work when I can park directly in front of the office?”. Or else, “Ugh, the bus stop is too far away. Can you imagine having to walk 7 minutes in the morning when it rains?”.
What can the Government do?
A recent study by the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development from the University of Malta showed that unless the government and transport authorities improve public transport, reduce private car ownership, and change school hours, increased traffic will cost Malta a total of €317 million by 2020.
This figure represents a total of €89 million in costs related to traffic accidents, €15.3 million in air pollution costs, €51.2 million in climate change costs, €10.4 million in noise costs, and a whopping €151 million in costs resulting from traffic congestion.
In terms of school hours, I personally do not believe it would make such as big difference. It would be more beneficial if the government could subsidise school transport for those families that actually cannot afford it (even for those ones that can but wish to pretend that they cannot). As mentioned above, there is so much that can be done on the subject of Public Transport – people need to use it, and from that aspect the Government is providing incentives for people to do so.
The area where the government can and should work on is that concerning private car ownerships. Ideally, it should start taxing the number of cars per households. There is no need for more than two cars in a household of four individuals. If people can afford to pay for and upkeep an additional car, then they can also afford to pay a tax on it as well. However, this idea would be unfavourable with voters, so no political party would ever consider it.
Furthermore, the government should also enforce the point system with which people can lose their licence. This will reduce private car ownership and also cleanse the streets of negligent and selfish drivers.