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Summer is over and e-scooters still have no bays

E-scooter bays meant to be in place by the summer have failed to materialise, with the transport minister saying the government will “take stock of the situation”.

In April, Transport Malta announced it was in discussion with operators and local councils to introduce the parking bays in nine localities: St Julian’s, Naxxar, St Paul’s Bay, Sliema, Msida, Swieqi, Ta’Xbiex, Gżira and San Ġwann.

The parking system – intended to regulate the anarchy of riders parking their rented scooters anywhere they like – was set to be in place “by summer” once an agreement was reached.

But with summer officially at an end, most of these localities remain without designated zones.

Asked for an update on the time frame, Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia did not provide a definite date but said the government had held “plenty of meetings” with councils and operators.

“We listened and took note of the investment they planned to make... we will now take stock of the situation, now that summer is over,” he said.

Farrugia said that, according to operators, the number of daily rental e-scooter trips had peaked at 25,000 over the summer months, an increase of 10,000, but added it was also important to evaluate the scale of rule-breaking.

“One needs to look at the contraventions in the past few months and whether we can address that or not,” Farrugia said.

Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia questioned about e-scooters.

He said that the government “will ensure that next summer will not have the same problems as this summer”.

Mayors who attended the last meeting, which took place earlier this month, told Times of Malta that nothing had been decided.

“It was like we were discussing the issue for the first time,” St Julian’s mayor Guido Dalli said. He said solutions to issues surrounding e-scooter use had been proposed by both councils and operators. 

“For example, I suggested that since the St Julian’s council and operators had already agreed on the location of parking bays, they should be implemented immediately.”

Other mayors suggested that e-scooter riders should have a motorbike licence, and introducing a helmet mandate was also discussed, Dalli said.

“Transport Malta said they would take the proposals into account and start tackling the issue in a reform.”

Gżira mayor Conrad Borg Manché said that while councils and operators had agreed on the need to introduce parking bays, dangerous driving, riding on the promenade and a lack of enforcement remained persistent problems.

Council representatives from St Julian’s, Sliema, Gżira, Swieqi and Msida attended on Wednesday with operators Bolt and Bird and Transport Malta officials.

Meanwhile, Transport Malta sources told Times of Malta the government is concerned about the rising number of infringements committed by e-scooter drivers, saying “all options are on the table”.

Before the authority invested in parking bays, it needed to agree on a holistic way forward with all stakeholders, they said, adding the number of infringements caused by e-scooters went beyond simply not having a place to park.

“There are so many illegalities that a thousand enforcement officers would be unable to keep up,” sources said.

In June, a 27-year-old Turkish woman was rushed to hospital after falling off her e-scooter in the early hours of the morning. Later that month, transport authority sources said the government was considering mandatory helmets, lower speed limits and a ban in pedestrian areas as part of an e-scooter crackdown.