I’m nearing the end of my 21 days in Malta and I’ve hardly posted about the buses…. I’ve seen a lot of the above map during my time on the islands, and I’ve taken about 65 bus journeys. The 65 is an estimate, I haven’t carefully noted down each one….
The three photos are just random ones from a trip going from Valletta back to the hotel. I was trying to capture some more of the interesting shots of the sea, but the bus got busy and someone stood in front of me. I thought taking photos of someone’s head and the background just poking out wouldn’t really work. So, I present three photos of the early part of the journey instead.
And, this leads me onto saying just how crowded the buses usually are. They’re full more often than not, especially between 07:00 and 10:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00. The bus service is reliable and comprehensive, with no bus during my trip being more than fifteen minutes late. However, they do perhaps need more buses as I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like during the busier summer months.
The bus prices are cheap, especially for locals who get a discounted rate. I purchased a €21 card every week which gave me unlimited bus travel for 7 days, as much as I wanted on both the main island and Gozo. I bought my tickets from WH Smiths at the airport, although for reasons unknown they said this purchase couldn’t be made with credit cards. Individual tickets are €1.50 during the winter months and €2 during the summer months, and this includes free transfers within two hours of the initial ticket purchase. Weekly tickets also last for seven fulls days, so if I first used the ticket on a Sunday afternoon I could still use it the following Sunday morning.
Maltese buses used to be rickety old things of various different designs, although they apparently had quite a lot of charm to them. Personally, I don’t really want charm with a public transportation service, I want efficiency. The country also used to have a rail line between Valletta and Mdina, but it got shut down a long time ago, which is unfortunate to say the least.
And another thought is that very few customers seem to thank the bus driver, it’s unusually low compared to other countries. I haven’t quite worked out why this is, although the residents of Gozo seem to be more polite to the drivers.
Overall, I thought that the bus service offered decent value for money and the timetabling is clear at stops and on maps. It’s an extensive service and generally pretty frequent, with night services also running. But, they really do need even more buses, as the journeys when the bus is full and banging up and down on potholes isn’t an ideal way to get around.