Yesterday, students have shared their frustration at the proposed increase in parking prices at Campus Hub at University. This comes after many other indications that Campus Hub is not interested in the welfare of students with exorbitant prices for accommodation and numerous commercial venues. These practices profit off international students who want to secure accommodations connected to university to avoid being scammed, and fail to provide students with the facilities they need for their personal, intellectual and emotional development.
The reaction to the increase in prices has also highlighted a long-standing problem – that of Malta’s entrenched and debilitating car dependency. Many students have little other option but to depend on the use of private vehicles, but this follows many years of infrastructural projects (by multiple governments and transport ministers) that prioritise car-centric design over ones that accommodate multiple means of transport.
Nothing short of a fundamental transformation of our transport system is necessary to tackle this long-standing problem. A national cycling network needs to be immediately implemented with segregated bicycle lanes to make sure that cycling is a safe and viable option for students who live in the vicinity of the University of Malta. Bus routes need to increase in frequency and be amended, and make sure that all parts of Malta have good connections to the University of Malta. Bus lanes should also be included wherever possible. Measures need to be implemented so that students do not need to rely on Campus Hub or large tracts of open space at the University of Malta for parking.
While disincentives for reducing the use of private vehicles are necessary to create a multi-modal and just transport system, making students pay exorbitant parking prices is not the way. Students are already struggling financially and this action is yet another burden for them. Disincentives need to be accompanied by incentives for the adoption of alternative means of transport. If they do not, they will unfairly disadvantage those on lower incomes while failing to encourage a shift in behaviour. To prevent further predatory practices, we also advise that the government nationalises Campus Hub and transfers it to the University of Malta.
In light of the situation at Campus Hub and the University of Malta, Extinction Rebellion Malta will continue to work with policymakers and other eNGOs such as Rota to make sure that alternative means of transport are not only available for students but are also efficient.
Written by: Extinction Rebellion Malta
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and are not reflective of ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ as a whole.
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