The government is expecting an increased demand for public transport for students attending independent and Church schools.
Last year, the government unveiled a scheme for parents of independent and Church school students, covering all their transport fees.
The service is also offered to those attending State schools but in this case, the government handles the logistics.
However, just days before the start of the school year, the government had announced that more than 800 students were still on a waiting list and had yet to secure a seat on a mini-bus. By the end of the year, some 170 students were still on this waiting list.
Contacted by Times of Malta as the parents start trying to find a seat for their child, a spokeswoman from the Education Ministry said that while the process was still ongoing, the government was expecting an increase in demand. “We expect there will be an increase in demand since parents are seeing the success of this scheme, paired with the fact that last year well over 99 per cent of parents from independent and Church schools received this service,” the spokeswoman said.
Since the initiative was launched, she said, the government has seen “a steady increase in the supply side of the private transport sector” in order to continue catering for “the ever-increasing demand”.
Asked for the number of students, if any, that were on the waiting list for the scheme, the spokeswoman insisted the government did not handle logistics for those in independent and Church schools.
When Times of Malta pointed out that, last year, it had been the government which had announced the number of students on the waiting list, the spokeswoman added that while “not directly responsible for the organisation process, the ministry will continue supporting wherever possible to make sure the scheme’s implementation continues to be a successful one”.
Last year, minibus operators who had signed a five-year deal with the government, said they had been inundated with requests from parents and despite increasing the number of vehicles, their fleets were not large enough to cater for the demand. Some said that even if they were to increase their fleet, finding drivers would prove difficult because few were willing to take up such a job.