Everyone in Malta has an opinion on the Maltese bus. Including those who do not actually use a bus for transport. In a crowded place, it’s difficult to go about your life ignoring the trundling yellow and orange (Malta) or grey and red (Gozo) machines.
The opinion camps tend to congregate along the following lines:
Buses are a necessary evil. They’re cheap, get you from point A to point B. And they’re particularly useful if you work in Valletta where parking on weekdays is a nightmare.
Buses need to be replaced. They are decrepit, smelly, dangerous, outdated, a menace to anyone on the road and driven by rude maniacs.
Buses are a remnant of a romantic past. Tourists buy models of them, photograph them and write about them. They need to be preserved as a core component of Malta’s cultural heritage.
We’ve sat on the fence on this one, merely highlighting passenger etiquette and the ecosystem. But the wheels of progress are now in motion, spurred by public opinion that ‘something needs to be done about the buses’ and it’s starting to look as if the days of the Maltese bus as we know it are indeed numbered. Unless there’s some dramatic u-turn by the powers that be, most of our current rolling stock will fail prescribed criteria for carbon emissions, wheel-chair accessibility and more.
If you’re alarmed by the threat of the scrap heap for the beloved Malta bus and its replacement by something equivalent to a 21st century machine, you can make some noise by signing an online petition here.
Photo: Gethin Thomas