The Ministry for Gozo recently proposed a project entitled “De-carbonising Gozo”, to be financed under Operational Programme (OP) I – “Fostering a competitive and sustainable economy to meet our challenges”. This project will include several initiatives all aimed at decreasing the amount of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions being generated, decreasing pollution, whilst at the same time moving towards a transport modal-shift in Gozo. This strategy consists of initiatives designated primarily to exploit the potential of the island’s transport infrastructure to reduce carbon and GHG emissions. The initiatives include:
- The establishment of a Park and Ride facility at Ta’ Xħajma, in Xewkijk and Ride facility at Ta’ Xħajma, in Xewkija: The scope of the project is to regenerate a brown site and transform it into a multi-modal hub that would include a terminal for electric-powered buses. The facility shall have a parking space with a holding capacity of 300 vehicles and dedicated spaces for the renting of pedelecs (e-bikes) and vehicle sharing.
Image owner: the Ministry for Gozo
This facility is expected to reduce traffic volumes in the Mgarr harbour area due to the modal shift which is expected to happen. This will consequently decrease the vehicle miles travelled by daily commuters and eventually improve the air quality of the area. This is in line with the objectives of Priority Axis 7, which underlines the necessity for the implementation of additional measures to encourage a modal shift towards cleaner modes of transportation to reduce GhG emissions emanating from the transport sector.
This project is also expected to decrease the traffic congestion levels in the Mgarr Harbour area at peak hours and therefore further decrease emissions. Other foreseen positive outcomes are the decrease in pressure for increased road capacity in Mgarr Road and the reduction of noise pollution in the area
- The deployment of a fully electric-powered bus fleet: The Park & Ride service will be operated by 6 battery-powered buses. This fleet shall be utilised to transport commuters between the Park & Ride facility and Mgarr Passenger Terminal. Besides, being considered a clean collective mode of transportation, these buses would serve as a catalyst for the further uptake of such vehicles by the local community. The service shall operate on a demand basis and users would be required to prebook through a mobile application.
- The establishment of a pedelec system to promote cycling as an alternative mode of transportation around Gozo: MGOZ plans to provide such a service from several strategic points to encourage this mode of transportation among the local population.