The cost of traffic congestion for the country will hit €1.28 billion per year in 2050 if no changes to transport policies are made, according to an estimate published in Transport Malta’s 2050 strategy document.

This figure would mean a loss of 8.2 per cent of Malta’s GDP, Transport Malta said.

The document identified road transport as the main source of polluting particulate matter and noise, as well as significant levels of other pollutants like nitrogen oxides, due to Malta’s heavy car dependency and its comparatively old car fleet.

Transport Malta’s strategy identified shortcomings in proper planning and the lack of a holistic traffic plan coupled with the lack of an integrated transport network.

The strategy document also explored the effects of climate change on Malta by 2050, saying that transport planning should take into account the effects that climate change will have on the transport infrastructure. The sea level, which is expected to have risen by 14cm by 2050, will cause “some problems” in roads located on the coast or flood areas, or where road drainage is not properly designed and maintained, Transport Malta said.

Besides the strategy plan, Transport Malta also launched a transport master plan leading up to 2025, identifying the need for traffic master plans in Paceville and St Julian’s, the Mrieħel area and Sliema, calling for the development of a national cycling strategy as well as a plan to introduce more financial incentives to reduce the average age of cars.

It also proposed the introduction of low emission zones for areas in which air pollution from vehicles is at dangerous levels for public health.

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