Transport in Malta

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The transportation system in Malta is small but extensive, and the islands' domestic system of public transport is reliant on buses and taxis, although there were both a railway and a tramway in the past.

Malta's primary international connections are the airport at Gudja and by sea mainly the Grand Harbour, and the Malta Freeport (3rd largest transshipment port in the Mediterranean Sea.

Land transport[edit]


Traffic in Malta drives on the left, as in the UK. Car ownership in Malta is exceedingly high given the very small size of the islands. The country has the fifth-highest number of vehicles per capita in the world as of 2009, with 607 motor vehicles per 1,000 people.[1] The number of registered cars in 1990 amounted to 182,254, giving an automobile density of 582 per km².[2]

Malta has 3,096 kilometres of road, 2,710 km (87.5%) of which are paved and 386 km are unpaved as of December 2003."CIA World Factbook - Transportation". Retrieved 2011-12-11. 

The official road user guide for Malta is The Highway Code.[3]


Main article: Malta bus

Buses are the primary method of public transport for the islands, which offer a cheap and frequent service to many parts of Malta and Gozo. The vast majority of buses on Malta depart from a large, circular terminus in Valletta.

Buses have been used on the island since 1905. These classic buses have become tourist attractions in their own right, due to their uniqueness, and are depicted on many Maltese advertisements to promote tourism as well as on gifts and merchandise for tourists. However, these old buses are slowly being replaced by a more modern fleet, albeit still customised in the tradition of the older buses.

Until 3 July 2011, when Arriva took over bus operations, there were approximately 500 buses in public transit service in Malta, most of them privately owned by the bus drivers themselves, and operated to a unified timetable set by the transport authority. Malta's buses carried approximately 31 million passengers per year.[4] On any one day, half the bus fleet worked on the public transport network (called "route buses"), while the other half were used for private tours and school transportation.

The buses used to be colour-coded according to their routes, before being painted green. From 1995 buses in Malta were all painted dark yellow, with a band of orange, while those on the sister island of Gozo were grey with a red band. When Arriva commenced operations in July 2011, a new fleet of buses was introduced in a turquoise and cream livery. Arriva ceased operations in Malta in January 2014 having been nationalised as Malta Public Transport by the Maltese government, with a new bus operator to take over their operations in the near future.[5][6]

Extended public transport network[edit]

On July 2011 a new public transport network was installed by Transport Malta (the regulating authority) and on 3 July 2011 it started being operated by the German-owned Arriva group, which was 66% owned by Arriva and 33% owned by the Maltese Tumas Group. Unlike the system it replaced, the buses were owned and operated by a single company with the drivers working for Arriva Malta. Arriva Malta was contracted as the sole operator of bus services on the Maltese Islands for 10 years. The 264-strong fleet consists of 174 brand new single deck buses, sourced from King Long, along with 46 second hand Mercedes-Benz Citaro articulated buses previously used in London in the United Kingdom, 10 new Optare Solo hybrid electric buses, and a mixture of existing and new buses coming from elsewhere within the Arriva group and some modern buses acquired from the outgoing operation. All buses have air conditioning, CCTV and low floor entrances. In January 2014, Arriva left Malta and the fleet and operations were taken over by the new government-owned company Malta Public Transport.

The network operated by Malta Public Transport includes a day bus service from 6am to 11pm and a night service from 11pm to 6am. It is divided into four types of services. The fast Crossline services operate at a frequency of 30 minutes. These connect with Mainline services which operate at a frequency of between 10 and 30 minutes. At regional and local levels the Feederlines serve villages and neighbouring areas at a frequency of 30 minutes. Airport Express routes travel from hubs to Malta International Airport. Apart from the interchange at Valletta, which has been upgraded, there are other major interchanges in the network at Mater Dei Hospital, Paola, Marsa and Msida. Public transport information is available in various media including real-time information screens, mobile phone, and online information and enhanced bus stop and interchange facilities.[7]


Main article: Malta Railway

Between 1883 and 1931 Malta had a railway line that connected the capital city of Valletta to the army barracks at Mtarfa / Mdina and a number of towns and villages.

Maritime transport[edit]

A ferry departs at Ċirkewwa harbour from Mġarr, Gozo.

Malta has three large natural harbours on its main island. There are also two man-made harbours that connect the islands of Malta and Gozo.

A seaplane service operated by HarbourAir Malta flies daily scheduled flights between the Grand Harbour in Valletta and Mġarr harbour in Gozo.

Harbour Air De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter in Valletta Harbour before a flight to Gozo in 2007.

Ferry services[edit]

A frequent daily passenger and car ferry service runs between the islands of Malta and Gozo between Ċirkewwa Harbour and Mġarr Harbour.

There is also a ferry terminal at the Grand Harbour that connects Malta to Pozzallo and Catania in Sicily.

Merchant marine[edit]

1,323 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totalling 27,208,819 GRT/44,617,877 tonnes deadweight (DWT)
Ships by type
bulk 440, cargo 334, chemical tanker 54, combination bulk 10, combination ore/oil 12, container 75, liquefied gas 4, livestock carrier 3, multi-functional large-load carrier 1, passenger 6, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 270, refrigerated cargo 39, roll on/roll off 45, short-sea passenger 9, specialised tanker 3, vehicle carrier 17

This includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Australia 4, Austria 6, Bangladesh 1, Belgium 3, Bulgaria 19, Canada 2, China 16, Croatia 14, Cuba 1, Cyprus 7, Denmark 3, Estonia 5, Finland 1, Germany 54, Greece 627, Hong Kong 12, Iceland 3, India 10, Iran 2, Israel 26, Italy 36, Japan 2, Latvia 24, Lebanon 6, Monaco 29, Netherlands 10, Nigeria 2, Norway 43, Poland 29, Portugal 2, Romania 15, Russia 85, Saudi Arabia 1, Slovenia 2, South Korea 5, Spain 1, Switzerland 54, Syria 4, Turkey 84, Ukraine 25, United Arab Emirates 3, United Kingdom 4, United States 10 (2002 est.)

Air transport[edit]

Malta International Airport is the only airport serving the Maltese Islands. It is built on the land formerly occupied by the RAF Luqa air base. A heliport is also located there, but the scheduled service to Gozo ceased in 2006. Since June 2007, a three-times daily floatplane service, operated by Harbour Air Malta, has linked the sea terminal in Grand Harbour to Mgarr harbour in Gozo.

In the past there were two further airfields which were in operation during World War II, and into the 1960s, located at Ta'Qali and Ħal Far. They have now since been closed, the land on the former has now been converted into a national park, stadium and the Crafts Village visitor attraction. The Malta Aviation museum is also situated here, preserving several aircraft including Hurricane and Spitfire fighters which defended the island in World War II.

The national airline is Air Malta

Malta Transport Museum[edit]

The Ministry of Culture of Malta sanctioned Touring Club Malta to set up a Transport Museum.[8]


  1. ^ "NationMaster - Transportation statistics". Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  2. ^ Sammut & Savona-Ventura, "Petrol Lead in a Small Island Environment", International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine 9 (1996) at 33-40.
  3. ^ [1] Department of Information Malta
  4. ^ Debono, James (2006-11-22). "Transportation statistics". Business Today. Retrieved 2007-02-19. 
  5. ^ Arriva Future Decided Di-Ve Malta News 22 December 2013
  6. ^ [2] "New Year in, Arriva out", Times of Malta 23 December 2013
  7. ^ MITC, James (2008-12-06). "Malta public transport reform". MITC. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  8. ^ Ix-xewqa ta’ Philip Agius... Muzew tat-Transport, Joseph C. Camilleri, It-Torċa, 12 August, 2006

External links[edit]