The Transport Ministry said today that remains politically responsible for the reform of the bus service, and the creation of an over-arching task force was 'a great idea' discussed yesterday between the Prime Minister and Transport Minister Austin Gatt.

Replying to questions after Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi announced the setting up of the task force, which he will head, a spokesman for the Transport Ministry said:

"The political responsibility for the reform remains with the ministry but since part of the solutions go beyond the remit of this ministry, it was necessary to create an over-arching departmental body to encompass within it organisations outside this Ministry - the very effective involvement of the police in managing traffic during rush hour is a case in point.

"Besides the police, other organisations will be involved and the Task Force will be coordinating the effort.

"The headship of the Prime Minister is a sign of the importance that the Prime Minister attaches to problem solving and obviously lends weight in getting things done.

"The idea to set up the task force was discussed last night between the Prime Minister and the minister and both agree that not only is it a good idea but an extremely effective tool to get the desired results."

The Transport Ministry will form part of the task force.

Earlier this morning, Dr Gonzi saidthat he has set up a task force to head the reform of the bus service. He will personally preside over it.

Speaking at Castille, Dr Gonzi said he had noted what was said by everyone in last Friday's debate in parliament.

He had also noted developments with the route changes on Sunday and yesterday. The matter was also debated in Cabinet.

It was clear, he said, that while progress had been made, more remained to be done for the people to have an efficient service. More coordination was needed at a national level to make this a success.

Therefore he decided last night to set up a transport task force, which he will himself preside. The task force will hold its first meeting tomorrow. Its purpose will be to ensure that the reform gives the people an efficient bus service without harming the environment, Dr Gonzi said.

The prime minister did not say who the members of the task force will be. Transport Minister Austin Gatt was not present for Dr Gonzi's announcement. Dr Gonzi did not take questions after his announcement.


The Labour Party poured cold water on the prime minister's announcement that he will preside a new task force on the bus service.

"The last time Dr Gonzi did this was when he said, before the election, that he will assume responsibility for Mepa. Lawrence Gonzi had promised to remedy Mepa's ills. But current reality is that Mepa and environment planning have ended up worse than before Lawrence Gonzi took over," PL transport spokesman Joseph Sammut said in a statement.

He observed that Dr Gonzi, four days ago had bound himself, his government and the country's stability, to Dr Gatt, and Nationalist MPs were ordered to back him in parliament.

Yet Dr Gatt was nowhere to be seen this morning and Dr Gonzi did not take questions. Families and business could not take heart fromt he fact that Dr Gonzi had now appointed himself to head public transport, Dr Sammut said.

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