Malta is the European Union’s smallest but most densely populated country. As a result of previous misguided policy efforts in the 1990s that had equated car ownership levels with economic growth, the country has one of the highest per capita car ownership levels in Europe. Thus, decoupling economic prosperity from transport activity has been a challenge faced by successive government administrations. By 2014, the Maltese government had decided that the country needed a long-term transport strategy. After three years of preparation, which included research, analysis, modeling, option testing, and consultation, Malta adopted an ambitious National Transport Strategy (NTS) with a 2050 horizon and an operational Transport Master Plan (TMP) to 2025.
The development of Malta’s long-term national transport strategy is a good practice because it's an indispensable learning experience for everyone involved in the lengthy process of formulating, documenting, and disseminating Malta’s longer-term vision for transport. This case study describes the development process of Malta’s NTS, including brainstorming, research, stakeholder consultation, data analysis, and political outreach and approval. During the 1990s and early 2000s, transport had fallen under the political direction of different government ministers, causing the transport policy to be lack of clear, coherent, and comprehensive long-term vision. In 2010, the Government had established a new authority within the Ministry for Transport that subsumed all legacy entities, becoming responsible for planning and regulation of the transport sector as a whole.
- The development process was led by the ministry’s project team, rather than external consultants, which makes sure that the knowledge gained, and tools developed remained within the team and the country.
- The setting up of a single Transport authority gives rise to a single organization, Transport Malta. Structured as a single strategic team, the organization is tasked with policy integration and bringing a cross-sectoral approach to long-term planning.
- Splitting the work into two distinct documents, a long-term vision structured with a 35-year National Transport Strategy and a 10-year Transport Master Plan, bridges the longer-term with the shorter-term implementing policies, actions, and measures.
- To maximize outreach, all the documents are placed on Transport Malta’s website, with short videos on social media linking back to the consultation web page.
- The use of the data and modeling tools has enabled clearer understanding of what mitigation goals could realistically be achieved. The same tools are also being used to develop other national medium and long-term plans, including the National Energy and Climate Plan with a 2030-time horizon and the National Policy Framework for Alternative Fuels Infrastructure.