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Contents 3 President Speech 4 Aim 5 The Problem 6 Speakers 8 Sponsors 10 Interview...........Prof Adrian Muscat 13 Interview...........Dr Kenneth Scerri 15 Interview...........Dr Maria Attard 20 Coming up 22 Program


President Speech Whilst welcoming you to this first UESA publication, it is of great pleasure that we as UESA have come so far. After being elected President of UESA following our last EGM held last May, as a new team we had one very important aim in mind, to be more reachable to all Engineering students, especially new fresher students. In order to do this, we had several ideas in mind and by far we have managed to implement the majority of them. After having rebranded UESA from its official logo, banners, flyers, posters, a refreshed ‘Facebook’ page and twitter feed, it was time for a new website. This website was also built with the aim to be more reachable to students. This was done by having a specific registered area for new users together with a confidential complaint form system. To further reach our goal to be more reachable to students, together with the great help of new UESA members, as UESA we have now managed to create 3 sub-committees these being; Media, Education and Leisure. Each of these respective committees work together with the whole executive team to create new, interesting and challenging activities and evens to make UESA a better students organisation. In addition to all of the above, here with this first publication we are giving students the opportunity to get more information on seminars that we as UESA host. Throughout this issue we will be focusing on the current transport problems in our island however this time through a different perspective; Sustainable transport through Engineering techniques. Whilst taking the opportunity to thank all speakers that made our first seminar for this year possible, I would like to invite all those interested engineering students to come and form part of the growing UESA team. Hope to see you all at our events and activities, Kenneth Terribile UESA President


Aim Following last year successful healthcare seminar with MHSA, UESA made it a point to organize another one, this time choosing a different topic. The aim of such seminars is to make University life even more interesting for the student. By these seminars students can listen to professional speakers discussing their main area of study. In addition to this the student can obtain even further information on directly related examinable aspects and nonexaminable aspects. Also the students are offered the opportunity to ask several question to the speakers both formally and informally as the speakers would be around during the break time. With this year’s seminar a new feature is being added, that is the publication your reading right now. First of all the publication will be available in both hard and soft copy but mainly in soft copy. The student can download and read it form our new website. Thanks to our website we are taking care of the environment whilst still delivering our message. The publication's main aim is to give a brief description of the seminar, the speakers and helping UESA to promote future events. Thus, thanks to the Seminar and the Publication, UESA will be even closer to the student, !

giving more information to the student and helping the student to keep up to date

!

with current problems in our Society.


The Problem One of today's most pressing everyday problem among the Maltese population, especially among university students is transportation. Whether taking the bus or using their own car, students face these problems on a daily basis mainly due to a bloated road network in conjunction with an unreliable public transport service. According to Austrian research in 2012, Malta’s car density is the European Union’s third highest, and more cars per 1,000 people are only found in Luxembourg and Italy. This leads to a lot of traffic during rush hours, wasting time, money, increases stress and noise levels, and, needless to say, added pollution to the environment. An interesting aspect of this problem is that it is multidisciplinary, in other words it needs to be tackled from different study areas. These different disciplines can highlight and emphasize a different variety of factors leading to the current bloated state. Hence different solutions can be developed.   These solutions can vary from government policies to innovative technological tools or modes of transport that can lead to a better infrastructure. Many researchers at the University of Malta, from different study areas, are trying to solve these problems.   A few of the approaches they are studying to improve our current situation include methods such as: Data Gathering Transport Modeling Policy analysis And the assessment of innovative ideas This seminar aims to explore these different areas of study and how they are being actually implemented in our system. It also serves as an opportunity to see how the engineering profession is also an essential field of study that can actually tackle and solve issues in our transport infrastructure.


SPECIAL THANKS GOES TO


Prof Adrian Muscat 1) What do you think are the main factors contributing to the ever increasing congestion in our road networks? The main factor is ourselves. We are happy with the situation. We prefer to build car parks than have more recreational areas. In our basement, we prefer to park a vehicle than a snooker table. In practice the main reason is one: free parking, which renders the system unfair, silly and in a permanent stalemate. We are treating the problem from an individual perspective rather than from a collective viewpoint.

2) In your opinion, are flyovers the most effective way to reduce traffic? If not, which solution would you recommend? Engineering is a trade off between effectiveness in solving a problem, financial cost, and social cost. We can draw a table to show how these variables vary for a roundabout, flyover and traffic light controlled junction, given the traffic statistics. Any system that simply considers traffic statistics is bound to fail. The act of simply building new ‘flyovers’ or equivalents encourages private car usage and therefore increases traffic and the social cost is high...very high. The solution I recommend is to treat the transport problem as a resource allocation !

problem, with a finite amount of diverse resources.


3) At the moment there are two options: private car or Arriva bus service. Which alternative modes of transport would you suggest to increase efficiency, reliability and reduce congestion? I do not agree with your first statement. Currently there are many other modes readily available. What is not yet available is a shared mode that is dynamic in time and space. As to your question, the right mix of modes will solve many of our problems. As a minimum we should consider (assuming commuting during the week); (a) doubling the capacity of the Public Transport System (Arriva is like Hoover) (b) widening the ‘busy hour’ time window (c) the introduction of parking charges where these render a fair system.

4) The application of an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) into the island’s road networks is currently still in its early stages. However, as it can be seen from countries such as Germany and the United States, it has great potential for monitoring and managing the flow of traffic. In your opinion, how great do you think the impact will be on the current transport infrastructure in a few years’ time? ITS encompasses a plethora of tools ranging from adaptive signaling in the small, highway route switching and vehicle identification for road charging. So the answer to your question is dependent on which tools we select. For example will we use the system to prioritize transit services? It will be great to do so. Or to reduce congestion without resorting to more expensive infrastructural projects? At this point in time I am skeptical of its impact, since we have not yet exhausted nor experienced simpler solutions. Or maybe we like high-tech solutions?. Judging from the latest PTS changes it is unlikely.


5) The current bus system has not managed to build a solid reputation among the Maltese people, causing more people to rely on private transport, which in turn is increasing the pressure on the Maltese roads. In addition, the buses, in particular the bendy buses, have suffered many problems such as getting stuck at a sharp bend. Should Arriva be replaced or could there still be a chance to regain the people’s trust? How can this be minimized until a new concept can be adopted and finalized? It is too early to comment, not least because of the lack of access access to critical data and reports. So as researchers we have to rely simply on data that we collect. You seem to be implying that (a) people are using their own vehicles because the PTS is unusable, and (b) the root of all problems is the current operator. Do you have proof of these? If yes we would like to have a copy. Commuters do not care who the operator is or whether articulated buses are deployed. Commuters care about reliability, trip time and cost per trip. The latter relates to efficiency and this is where we seem to be stumbling.


Dr Kenneth Scerri 1) What do you think are the main factors contributing to the ever increasing traffic in our road networks? I think the main contributing factor is a dependency on the private car by the general Maltese society. Alternative modes need to be adopted, need to be made part of your life style. Give our size and good weather most year round, bikes, motorized and not, and walking are often valid alternatives that are unfortunately ignored.

2) In your opinion, are flyovers the most effective way to reduce traffic? If not, which solution would you recommend? Unfortunately, on the road network there is not one right solution. Flyovers might reduce congestion in one junction just to be translated to the next junction down the road. Reducing traffic requires the adoption of other modes of travel like car sharing and polling, a wider use of public transport, cycling and walking; just to name a few.

3) At the moment there are two options: private car or Arriva bus service. Which alternative modes of transport would you suggest to increase efficiency, reliability and reduce congestion? Again, simple solution such as car sharing and car pooling can easily help to reduce congestion. Cycling, if supported by safe cycling paths, can also play an important part to reduce our dependency on private cars. Employers can also help to reduce congestion during peak hours by adopting flexible working hours and by allowing their employes to work from home.


4) The application of an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) into the island’s road networks is currently still in its early stages. However, as it can be seen from countries such as Germany and the United States, it has great potential for monitoring and managing the flow of traffic. In your opinion, how great do you think the impact will be on the current transport infrastructure in a few years’ time? I think the impact can be significant since at the moment Malta is far behind various other European counties in this aspect. Real-time data gathering and ITSs can pave the way for an optimised network, which given Malta’s size can be monitored from a single site with a coordinated effort to improve the follow over the complete network.  5) The current bus system has not managed to build a solid reputation among the Maltese people, causing more people to rely on private transport, which in turn is increasing the pressure on the Maltese roads.  In addition, the buses, in particular the bendy buses, have suffered many problems such as getting stuck at a sharp bend. Should Arriva be replaced or could there still be a chance to regain the people’s trust? How can this be minimised until a new concept can be adopted and finalised? The new public transport system has surely had a difficult start. Nevertheless, every new development can suffer from teething problems - persistence is vital in building a successful system. Thus in my opinion it is fundamental to learn from past events and work on improving the current system.


Dr Maria Attard 1) What do you think are the main factors contributing to the ever increasing traffic in our road networks? Car dependence is the main reason. This was brought about by increased household income (improved standard of living), lack of coordination between land use planning and transport planning over the last two decades when growth in car use was most evident, and a lack of policies that restraint/control/manage use of the private vehicle (including sustainable public transport systems).

2) In your opinion, are flyovers the most effective way to reduce traffic? If not, which solution would you recommend? An increase in infrastructure, prior to the adoption of Traffic Demand Measures will only lead to a worsening of the situation. Many cities and countries have realised almost a decade ago that building new infrastructure is not the solution to reduce traffic (and its negative impacts on health and pollution). Traffic Demand Management measures and Intelligent Transport Systems have been used extensively to increase the efficiency of existing infrastructure and reduce the "transport bill" (cost of road infrastructure, maintenance, pollution, noise, accidents, etc.)


3) At the moment there are two options: private car or Arriva bus service. Which alternative modes of transport would you suggest to increase efficiency, reliability and reduce congestion? We have traditionally relied on the bus service as our "public transport infrastructure". Today however there are other options, for example sea ferries and water taxis for those living in proximity to the harbours. Taxi services offer another alternative even though further improvements in the service, to try and reduce the high costs could be another public service. Malta has still to embrace other systems available in other countries such as demand responsive transport, car clubs and even cycling. Cycling is on the increase however there are barriers brought about by lack of car driver awareness and dedicated infrastructure which makes it hard to infiltrate in society. Of course, we have walking. Many of the trips we do every day are within walking distance. However we persist in using the car. Investment in walking infrastructure needs to be made to encourage walking again.    4) The application of an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) into the island’s road networks is currently still in its early stages.   However, as it can be seen from countries such as Germany and the United States, it has great potential for monitoring and managing the flow of traffic. In your opinion, how great do you think the impact will be on the current transport infrastructure in a few years’ time? This will depend on the type of system, its management and use, and of course, the ! investment in research that will allow studies on network performance, ! simulation of data and the assessment of alternative routes and proposals. ITS ! do have a significant impact when all the functions (and potential) of the ! system are implemented properly. Malta has a lot of potential in this area ! ! because of its size. The availability of real time data will potentially allow ! researchers to develop local solutions to network problems.


5) The current bus system has not managed to build a solid reputation among the Maltese people, causing more people to rely on private transport, which in turn is increasing the pressure on the Maltese roads.  In addition, the buses, in particular the bendy buses, have suffered many problems such as getting stuck at a sharp bend. Should Arriva be replaced or could there still be a chance to regain the people’s trust? How can this be minimized until a new concept can be adopted and finalized? This is a multi-faceted problem. It is a technical and operational problem, it is a political problem but it also is a social problem. I believe that the technical and operational problems could be resolved with good will from the operator, however there needs to be the political will and support to deliver a sustainable bus service. Bus priority has to be implemented in order for the service to be efficient. This incidentally was a frequent request of bus operators for over a decade now, however with increasing car use and congestion, this measure has become a priority. And it is certainly the most important measure if Government is serious about "solving the Arriva problem". However, the public transport service in Malta is also a social problem. There is a stigma associated with riding the bus. The price of the bus service is also very low and highly subsidized by Government. This undermines the financial sustainability of the system. It will not be a matter of changing the operator, many other strong political decisions will have to be made for a service to operate  efficiently.


UP NEXT . . .


The Program

18:00 : Start of Seminar Address by Educational Officer

18:05 : Address by President

18:05 : Dr Kenneth Scerri

18:35 : Dr Maria Attard

19:05 : Break

19:20 : Dr Adrian Muscat

19:50 : Perit Audrey Denoto

20:15 : Conclusion


Designed by Jurgen Seychell Content : Kenneth Terrible, David Debono, Jack Tranter and Andrew Spiteri. A special thanks goes to Jean Paul Formosa for the background image.


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