Transport in Malta
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. The number of registered cars in 1990 amounted to 182,254, giving an automobile density of 582 per km².
Malta has 3,096 kilometres of road, 2,704 km (87.3%) of which are paved and 392 km are unpaved as of 2008.
Buses are the primary method of public transport for the Maltese Islands and have been in operation there since 1905, offering a cheap and frequent service to many parts of Malta and Gozo. The vast majority of buses on Malta depart from a terminus in Valletta.
The traditional classic Maltese buses, which were in operation until 2011 and still provide tourist-oriented services to this day, have become visitor 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. Prior to their reform there were approximately 500 buses in public transit service, 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. 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 transport.
In 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 Arriva Malta, which was 66% owned by Arriva Group (owned by German company Deutsche Bahn and 33% owned by Malta's Tumas Group), operating as the sole operator on a 10-year contract and running a new 264-strong fleet of buses in a turquoise and cream livery. Unlike the system it replaced, the buses were owned and operated by a single company with the drivers working as employees of Arriva Malta.
When Arriva ceased operations on 1 January 2014 due to financial difficulties, the company was nationalised as Malta Public Transport by the Maltese government as an interim measure while a new bus operator could be found. As of October 2014 the government has chosen Autobuses Urbanos de León as its preferred bus operator for the country, and although the agreement has yet to be fully determined and signed, it is planned that they will being operation in January 2015.
During the closing days of December 2014, the Times of Malta and other newspapers were reporting that the company had now signed contracts and purchased the existing operation for 8 million euros. They duly took over the business on January 8, 2015 with their takeover being effected as a "soft launch". The existing name - Malta Public Transport - is to be retained instead of using Autobuses Urbanos de León and nothing will have changed from a passenger perspective initially. The buses are to be repainted into a new livery of light green and white and during a press announcement to mark the formal takeover of operations on the day, several repainted buses were lined up for a photo call to show off the new livery, these being two of the leased in 2014 Optare Solos, one of the leased in 2014 Wright Volvos, one each of the new in 2011 King Long XMQ6900J and XMQ6127J buses. By February the sub contracted buses from UBS were replaced - temporarily - with 32 dual-door Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses operated by ALESA (as opposed to the situation until then of sub contracting of both bus and driver from UBS) until new Otokar Vectio C dual-door single deck buses currently on order have arrive later in 2015. These new buses will number 142 in total and used to augment the existing fleet as the revised route network is incrementally rolled out during the course of 2015 with the full service planned not expected to be fully realized until 2016, at which time the 23 million euro subsidy for 2015 will rise to 29 million thereafter.
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.
- The Grand Harbour, located at the eastern side of the capital city of Valletta. The Grand Harbour, which has been used as a harbour since Roman times, has several extensive docks and wharves, as well as a cruise liner terminal.
- Marsamxett Harbour, located on the western side of Valletta, accommodate a number of yacht marinas.
- Marsaxlokk Harbour is sited at Marsaxlokk on the southeastern side of Malta, and is the location of the Malta Freeport, the islands' main cargo terminal.
- 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.)
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. From June 2007 to August 2012, a three-times daily floatplane service, operated by HarbourAir Malta, 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. Ħal Far has been converted into an industrial estate, a race track and an immigration reception centre.
The national airline is Air Malta
With its creation in 2010, the Authority for Transport in Malta or Transport Malta assumed the functions of the Malta Maritime Authority, the Malta Transport Authority and the Director and Directorate of Civil Aviation on 2010.
Malta Transport Museum
The Ministry of Culture of Malta sanctioned Touring Club Malta to set up a Transport Museum.
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