The government will give “financial help” to people who buy a personal e-kick scooter, Clyde Caruana announced during Monday’s budget speech.

“For the first time we will give financial help to those who buy a personal e-kick scooter, and who, therefore, are more likely to use it responsibly with respect to others,” Caruana said.

It was a one-line statement during his address in parliament. He did not elaborate on what kind of financial help it is and how it would work.

The announcement came two weeks after the Transport Ministry announced Malta will ban rental e-scooters as of next March, following in Paris’s footsteps. 

The surprise move had triggered mixed reactions.

It was a sigh of relief for disgruntled residents who, over the past four years, were forced to contend with the increasing number of whooshing scooters in their densely populated neighbourhoods.

Environmentalists and the ADPD, on the other hand, have appealed to the government to consider reversing the ban, saying the decision will lead to further bus overcrowding and more cars on the road.

Two weeks ago the Transport Ministry announced Malta will ban rental e-scooters as of next March. File photoTwo weeks ago the Transport Ministry announced Malta will ban rental e-scooters as of next March. File photo

On Monday, Caruana said the revision of a transport masterplan is also in the pipeline. It includes, among other things, the new network of walking and bicycle lanes and beautification of urban areas that was announced by the transport minister last year.

It will cost €35 million over five years, Caruana said on Monday.

The government is also “finalising a plan” to reduce rush hour traffic, he said. When implemented, “a number of services in our streets” will not be able to operate before 9am.

Again, he did not elaborate further on those two measures.

Caruana said there are now more than 13,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the streets and all schemes for the purchase of electric vehicles, including for electric motorbikes, will be continued.

These include the scrappage scheme for old vehicles, the scheme that incentivises the purchase of e-bikes and pedelecs, the scheme for those who switch to a gas-powered vehicle, and the scheme for vehicles that are used to transport passengers in a wheelchair.

Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will also continue to be exempt from registration tax and from paying a road licence for the first five years since their registration.

He said the government is also exploring new ways to curb traffic congestion.

One of them is a study that could potentially lead to the creation of parking areas run by public-private partnerships that would bring together several community services in a centralised hub. The project could be implemented as soon as next year, he said.

The government is also looking at introducing a park-and-ride service for University students.

A new study will also be launched to understand how transport to and from Valletta can be improved. 

And a study on how the free public transport system can be improved is similarly in the pipeline, he said.

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