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The Malta Buses

01.04.1920 - 02.07.2011
Original language : English

A short summary of the history of Malta’s unique classic buses from 1905 up to present days. These buses remain a popular part of Malta’s cultural heritage.

Malta’s traditional buses are an important part of the nation’s cultural heritage. The buses were unique, built locally, with over 100 remaining in day-to-day use until the transport reforms of July 2011.

Malta’s first buses entered use in 1905, but the operation was not a success and by the end of 1906 they were no longer in use. In April 1920 motor-buses made a return to Malta (it was not until the summer of 1925 that they arrived on Gozo). Many buses built in the 1920s were based on the chassis of World War 1 ambulances and trucks.

From 1931 to 1973 all the buses were painted in bright liveries, depending on which village route they were allocated. This meant that the two termini at Valletta were a sea of colour with a frequent service to all parts of the island.

Many of the buses were driven by their owner or a member of his family. The conductor was often also a family member too. Generations of the same family were involved in the industry and even today there are people owning and driving coaches and minibuses who can trace their family history with the bus industry back three or more generations.

In 1973 the liveries were reduced to three and in 1975 all the buses were painted green (Gozo’s buses stayed grey).

In 1995 the buses became yellow with an orange band. This remained the livery until July 2011.

Many of the traditional buses were retained by their former owners from 2011 and a number have been restored over the years into versions of the old village liveries. Two consortia of owners now offer traditional Maltese buses for hire allowing both tourists and locals the chance to relive the past.

More about Malta’s bus history can be found on the Memorja website of the National Archives of Malta (www.memorja.com). In the Malta Bus Archive section, a number of photographs and biographies can be found, whilst in the interview section there are a growing number of videoed interviews with former bus owners, drivers and bus-builders.

A short summary of the history of Malta’s unique classic buses from 1905 up to present days. These buses remain a popular part of Malta’s cultural heritage.

Malta’s traditional buses are an important part of the nation’s cultural heritage. The buses were unique, built locally, with over 100 remaining in day-to-day use until the transport reforms of July 2011.

Malta’s first buses entered use in 1905, but the operation was not a success and by the end of 1906 they were no longer in use. In April 1920 motor-buses made a return to Malta (it was not until the summer of 1925 that they arrived on Gozo). Many buses built in the 1920s were based on the chassis of World War 1 ambulances and trucks.

From 1931 to 1973 all the buses were painted in bright liveries, depending on which village route they were allocated. This meant that the two termini at Valletta were a sea of colour with a frequent service to all parts of the island.

Many of the buses were driven by their owner or a member of his family. The conductor was often also a family member too. Generations of the same family were involved in the industry and even today there are people owning and driving coaches and minibuses who can trace their family history with the bus industry back three or more generations.

In 1973 the liveries were reduced to three and in 1975 all the buses were painted green (Gozo’s buses stayed grey).

In 1995 the buses became yellow with an orange band. This remained the livery until July 2011.

Many of the traditional buses were retained by their former owners from 2011 and a number have been restored over the years into versions of the old village liveries. Two consortia of owners now offer traditional Maltese buses for hire allowing both tourists and locals the chance to relive the past.

More about Malta’s bus history can be found on the Memorja website of the National Archives of Malta (www.memorja.com). In the Malta Bus Archive section, a number of photographs and biographies can be found, whilst in the interview section there are a growing number of videoed interviews with former bus owners, drivers and bus-builders.

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