Sunday, 4 March 2012

Buses in Malta

Out with the old...
For many, many years, yellow buses of varying vintage were a common sight as they chugged along Malta's highways and byways.  (Note: there are no actual highways in Malta, and probably too many byways).  Since June of 2011 however, these buses have been consigned to the junkyard - or at least 'retired' - although obviously there are a few still tootling around offering private tours. 





They've been replaced - with no little fanfare - by fancy new buses supplied by the Arriva company.  Now, 'Arriva' is a name which asks for trouble when you are running a bus company.  There were many and frequent problems when these buses were launched onto an expectant public - right in the middle of the busy tourist season too, which added to the complications.  People would wait for hours hoping for the arrival of one of these machines, only to watch it blaze past, stuffed to the gills with human cargo.  I have personal experience of waiting for a bus for what became a couple of hours in Mellieha.  We had hiked up the hill to try and avoid the throngs of people at the stops next to the beach, but to no avail.  Tough, bitter memories.

...and in with the new.
But fear not, because things have improved somewhat.  Now granted, this is low season, so there is less pressure on the system.  The mind boggles at the thought that people with enough savvy and business sense to make such decisions thought it was a good idea to start operating in the last week of June...  But anyway, right now it's considerably better than when they started.  At time of writing, an all day ticket costs €2.60 for non-ID card holders.  It's €2.30 for a two hour ticket, so clearly the all day one offers a better deal.  If you've got your ID card, you pay €1.50 for the all day ticket, so get one if you can.

Of course many people were sad to see the demise of the old buses, not least those outlets who overstocked on yellow bus fridge magnets.  There are always pros and cons with these types of situations. 
Pros of Old Yellow Buses:  They looked nice and offered you a taste of what life was like before i-pads and things of that nature.  Tickets were also cheaper than with the updated versions.
Cons of Old Yellow Buses:  Uncomfortable, no air-conditioning and prone to breaking down.

In summary, if you actually live here and need to use public transport, buses with air-conditioning are good.



Here's my list of some of the more popular routes serviced by the new Arriva buses:

3 comments:

  1. The "Changeover" date was set by the Government, rather than any savvy businessman. The reason given for diing it at the start of July was to co-incide with the end of the school term (the yellow buses were also used to carry largr numbers of school children and the Government, knowng that there would be teething problems, did not want these to disrupt their education. They also wanted to remove the yellow buses in one go, not let them drift on carrying schol children).

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  2. Thanks Phil, that explains the timing although I can't say I agree with the thinking behind it. Okay, so the kids might have been late for school a few times, I don't think this was going to irreparably damage anyone's education. But what was damaged beyond repair was a huge number of tourist's opinion of Malta as they were stranded at bus stops, or squashed onto one of the few that was running correctly. Hopefully things will be a lot better this summer - to be fair the buses have improved greatly since that rocky start.

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  3. All power to Arriva, I say ;)

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Please feel free to comment below, all feedback welcome - it's great to hear other people's opinions and experiences.