The number of people using the buses rose by 1.5 million in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

Transport Minister Ian Borg said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that 26,500,868 passengers used public transport between January and June.

He pointed out that 30,000 passengers benefited from free public transport.

Dr Borg said he looked forward to working with all those involved so that the service could continue to be improved, and fewer people used their own cars.

He said bus services needed to be made more frequent while the bus fleet needed to grow further.

Free public transport

The government in January rolled out the third extension of its free public transport scheme, making youths aged from 14 to 20 and full-time students 21 or older eligible.

The Budget 2019 measure was an extension to the 2017 initiative which gave free public transport to 18-year-olds. The €250,000 investment benefited more than 4,000 youths who made nearly 600,000 trips. In 2018, €2.2 million was spent as the measure was extended to all youths aged from 16 to 20, reaching 24,000 who made more than 5.2 million trips by the end of last year.

This year, the government has set aside €3.3 million.

In May, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said commuters could one day be paid to use public transport, but first, Malta needed to work towards having free public transport for all.

Numbers keep rising

The number of bus passengers has been on a steep increase for the last few years.

The buses carried 53.4 million passengers throughout last year, setting a new record, with an increase of 11.3 per cent over 2017, when Malta Public Transport - which is heavily subsidised by the government - carried 48 million passengers in a year.

Last August August saw a new record of 5.2 million passengers using the buses, an increase of 11 per cent when compared to August 2017.

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