A test of a driverless bus that was promised back in 2021 will begin “by the start of 2025”, Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia said on Monday.

Farrugia was replying to a parliamentary question asked by PN MP Rebekah Borg, who noted that the pilot project had been promised “in the coming months” way back in May 2021.

That promise was made by Farrugia’s predecessor, Ian Borg, who said that driverless buses would be tested along four routes.

In December of that year, Transport Malta had assured Times of Malta that the project was still very much underway. EU funding was being secured and “research” into the project was ongoing, it said.

Almost two years later, driverless buses remain nowhere to be seen on Maltese roads – and the plan has now been pushed back to 2025.

Speaking in parliament on Monday, Farrugia said the project was part of a €28 million project involving 13 EU member states. Malta Public Transport, which runs Malta’s national bus service, has been allocated €500,000 to purchase an autonomous bus and cover ancilliary costs for the pilot project, he said, while the Transport Ministry has a €35,000 budget for the project.

“The project is expected to last 48 months…. while studies remain ongoing, it is expected to begin by the start of 2025,” he said.

PN MP Borg also asked the minister to explain how earmarked routes were being adapted to make them suitable for an autonomous vehicle test, and what was being done to address conclusions reached during the two years of research.

The minister did not provide any information in relation to those questions.

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