Malta’s bus drivers are being assaulted by passengers multiple times a week, with most assaults stemming from disputes related to face masks.
However, whilst assaults on drivers were easily hitting the double digits in the past few weeks, the introduction of a €50 fine for those who refuse to wear masks in crowded places has helped such numbers go down.
“Whereas we used to see around 20 assaults a week, ever since the fine has been introduced, assaults have reduced to around two or three a week,” a spokesperson for Malta Public Transport said.
“Said assaults are being consistently reported to police.”
The regulation prohibiting passengers from boarding public transport without wearing face masks was implemented last May.
However, earlier this month, Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci introduced the €50 fine.
“In the interest of everyone’s safety, bus drivers were instructed to avoid confrontation with passengers,” the spokesperson clarified.
“Recently, the authorities have increased their inspections on different routes, especially the busy ones, and together with the introduction of fines, we have noted that the amount of assaults on our drivers has decreased.”
A bus passenger was only recently assaulted after requesting another passenger to put on a face mask.
Whilst no serious injuries resulted from such incident, police investigations into the case are ongoing.
“We appeal to all passengers to do their part and wear a face mask while using public transport to keep everybody safe,” the MTA spokesperson concluded.