New Gozo network from June 21, 2015 - a new map has been added (see below) which also contains a frequency guide.
New fares system from July 1, 2015 - details added.
New routes are expected in four stages starting Sept 13, 2015 - details awaited.
Welcome to Maltabybus.com
Exploring Malta and Gozo by public transport can be fun and rewarding, if a little fraught at times. You could just hop on a bus and see what happens. On the other hand, if you want to arm yourself with some information and maybe do some pre-planning, this is the website for you. I can't promise that the information will always be 100% accurate or up to date - sat here in the UK it's not always easy to find out what's going on. I will, however, do my best, and I trust you will have a great holiday on these fascinating islands.
If you were expecting the quirky old buses that you may have heard about and seen in guidebooks, they were swept away overnight in July 2011 and replaced with modern buses on a completely new network. Sad for the bus enthusiasts but maybe not for the residents. Things did not go well for the new operator, Arriva, and they pulled out at the end of 2013. Malta Public Transport was formed, initailly run by the Government. From January 2015 a Spanish company called Autobuses Urbanos de Leσn took over the running of the company. A new light green and white livery is being introduced to replace the blue and white colours, which are a throwback to Arriva days. Routes and timetables were initially unchanged, but a new network was introduced on Gozo on 21st June 2015 and changes in Malta are due to be rolled out from 13th September 2015 onwards.
My name's Brendan, by the way, and you can find my contact details hidden away somewhere on my Globe Studios website (well, I wouldn't want to be inundated with emails now, would I). As well as this section aimed at visitors to Malta, you will find further pages aimed at enthusiasts and those interested in the history of bus services in Malta.
The Bus Network
For such a small island, there are a large number of bus routes, and you are never very far from a bus stop. Frequencies are good on the main routes, but less so on other routes, and it often pays to check timetables. You can find more about timetables further down this page.
There is some logic to the route numbering system. One and two digit numbers, that is numbers in the series 1-99, run to and from Valletta bus station, and run roughly in geographical order in an anti-clockwise direction around Valletta. Routes X1-X7 are limited stop routes all serving the Airport; X4/X5/X7 link Valletta with the Airport and beyond. Numbers in the 100s and 200s are local routes not serving Valletta, whilst Gozo bus services are numbered in the 300s.
Of course, there are always exceptions! A handful of routes are scheduled to run from Valletta Castille rather than the bus station, but due to the redevelopment of the Castille area they are currently leaving from the bus station (the Park and Ride stop). These are routes 122/3 and also Valletta local routes 130 and 133. Finally, the network of Night Routes linking various parts of Malta with the bars, clubs and restaurants of San Giljan (the stop formerly known as Paceville) are numbered in the N series; in winter the night routes run on Friday and Saturday nights only.
Unfortunately, overcrowding can be a problem. Buses running through Sliema towards Valletta can be a particular problem at busy times. Afternoon services from Rabat to Bugibba (service X3) are also very busy and passengers are sometimes left behind. I've been known to catch an X3 going the other way in order to board the Bugibba bound bus at Ta Qali Interchange, thus being sure of getting a seat! Route 201 along the south coast is also very busy, although I believe larger buses are being used these days. The forthcoming route changes should hopefully go some way to alleviating these problems.
Fares and Tickets from July 1, 2015
A completely new fare system has been introduced from July 1st, 2015. Visitors to Malta have three options: (1) use cash to buy single tickets from the driver; (2) save money by buying a 12-journey card from a kiosk; or (3) buy a 7-day ticket from a kiosk. A fourth option is the tallinja smartcard which is aimed at residents but may also benefit regular or long-term visitors.
The only ticket available from the bus driver is the two-hour single ticket for 2.00. This will be reduced to 1.50 in winter (likely to be from October to June, exact dates to be advised). On night buses (routes prefixed by N) the single fare is 3.00. There are no discounts for children except that children aged under 4 years travel free. Passengers are encouraged to have the correct amount of money for the fare if possible.
Passengers may change buses within the two hour period to get to their destination as part of a one-way journey. According to the small print, the ticket does not allow you to make a return trip, even if wholly within the two hour period. Also, with the single ticket you are not allowed to continue your journey later on the same route, even if within the two hours. However, some sources are saying that the ticket is valid for two hours from the time of validation no matter what buses you travel on.
Also available is a card giving 12 single tickets for 15, making 1.25 per journey. It has to be purchased in advance (see below) in the form of a non-personalised tallinja card and each passenger swipes the card on the card reader on entering the bus. It can be used by more than one person for the same journey (swipe the card twice if there are two of you). On night buses (routes prefixed by N) you have to pay double, so two journeys will be taken off the card.
A 7-day unlimited travel Explore Card is also available costing 21 (children aged 4-10 pay 15). Unlike the previous 7-day ticket it is valid in Gozo as well as Malta, and is also valid on night buses. You buy it in advance and swipe the card on each bus journey.You can buy the 12-journey and 7-day tickets from kiosks located at Valletta bus station, Bugibba bus station, Malta International Airport, Sliema Ferries, Mater Dei Hospital, and the Gozo bus terminus at Victoria bus station. Some hotels will also be selling the 7-day ticket in due course. Penalty fares are payable if you travel without a valid ticket.
Local residents have been encouraged to obtain the new tallinja smartcard, which has its own website www.tallinja.com. This is a personalised stored-value card which basically allows the named cardholder to make each single journey (within two hours) for 75c, or 2.50 for a night journey. A monthly version costs 26 (there is also an automatic cap so nobody pays more than 26 per month). There are further discounts for senior citizens, students and children. There is no initial charge for the card this year, but from January 2016 there will be a 5 admin charge. Cardholders can top up their cards by any amount. Non-residents can apply for a card giving a foreign address (or a hotel address), but two weeks must be allowed for delivery. A photo is required. Only frequent or long-term visitors would benefit from obtaining a card.
Maps of Bus Routes
Donning my hat as an amateur cartographer, I have produced the following maps (in pdf format) showing the current bus network. Note that these maps do not show the temporary diversions as a result of rebuilding the coast road (see below under the Temporary Diversions heading).
Recently added is a Bus Map of Gozo showing the new route network from June 2015, along with a general frequency guide for Gozo.
Handy if you are staying in Bugibba or Qawra is this Bus Map of Bugibba showing the location of all bus stops.
At some point you are bound to visit the capital city, in which case you may find this Location Plan of Valletta Bus Station useful.
When in Malta you may be able to pick up a free copy of an official tourist bus map (this one dates from 2013 as there is not a more up-to-date one available online).
A privately produced diagrammatic map of Maltese bus services by Ben Calascione can be found at www.maltabusroutes.com. Another useful diagrammatic map of the main routes has been produced in pdf format by Phil Groocock.
Summary Bus Timetables
These are produced by myself and show lists of departure times for principal points. Additional routes and journeys marked as "summer only" generally operate from late June to early November but I understand in 2015 the additional summer services started on July 12 (note that in 2014 the summer routes were not introduced until July 18 due to industrial relations problems). Although dated 2014 these timetables are believed correct for summer 2015. However, route and timetable changes are expected to be introduced in stages from 13th September 2015 and I'll do my best to keep you up to date.
Departures from/to: Bugibba, Cirkewwa, Ghadira Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha (Golden Bay), Sliema, Valletta.
Summary of departures in a typical hour, pdf files:
Note that the main difference between WINTER schedules and SUMMER schedules is the addition of the following routes in summer (late June to early November). On other routes there are also some additional journeys at busy times.
37A Cirkewwa - Armier - Ghadira Bay: runs hourly 0800-2000 from Cirkewwa every day, leaving Armier 8 minutes later and arriving Ghadira at 16 minutes past the hour. From Ghadira runs hourly 0835-2035. This replaced the previous summer extension of service 37. Also calls at Paradise Bay (hourly 0852-2052) in the Ghadira to Cirkewwa direction only.
71A Zurrieq - Grotto - Hagar Qim - Ghar Lapsi: runs hourly 0835-1935 from Zurrieq every day, taking 21 minutes to Ghar Lapsi. From Ghar Lapsi it runs hourly 0900-2000, leaving Hagar Qim 12 minutes later, Blue Grotto at 17 minutes past the hour, and arriving Zurrieq at 23 minutes past. This replaced the previous extension of certain journeys on route 71.
101/2 Cirkewwa - Mellieha - Ghajn Tuffieha - Mgarr - Gnejna: in summer journeys extend beyond Ghajn Tuffieha (Golden Bay) to Gnejna Bay.
109 Bharija - Rabat - Siggiewi - Bajjada - Ghar Lapsi: in summer this route is extended the short distance beyond Bajjada down the hill to Ghar Lapsi.
Links to Official Bus Timetables
If you feel the need to consult detailed route by route timetables, you can, in the main, find them on the Malta Public Transport website, as long as you know the route number. There are, however, some problems, which hopefully will be addressed in due course. Clicking on Bus Timetable Library you are presented with a link to "Winter Timetables". Despite saying "winter", the additonal routes 37A and 71A which run only in summer are included, as are the additional night routes (in winter I think only the N11, N13 and N91 run). However, the summer extension of routes 101/2 and 109 (see above) are not shown.
Note, however, that route 205 is missing altogether from the official timetables, although you can take a sneaky peek here (kindly provided by the operator). Route 110 is only shown in one direction, but the missing direction can be found here.
Finally, at the time of writing, the timetables shown for Gozo in the Bus Timetable Library are incorrect and have been superceded from 21st June 2015. A leaflet with partial details of the new timetables is available here but full timings do not appear to be available online yet.
The nature of the road network is such that bus routes are frequently diverted because of roadworks or special events, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for weeks or months. It is beyond the scope of this website to mention all but the longest term diversions. You can often find details online on the official news website of Transport Malta. However I will mention the following:
WARNING The coast road from St Paul's Bay roundabout to Pembroke is being rebuilt to dual carriageway which is resulting in some diversions to bus routes. Things change rapidly and information is not always displayed on affected bus stops. Buses from Qawra may still be missing out the Wileg and Kennedy stops and running directly to the coast road via Triq Kennedy. In Pembroke buses were diverted away from the main road and running via White Rocks and St Andrews, but I'm not sure of the latest situation. Northbound buses were diverted via Maghtab thereby missing out the scenic part of the coast road and the Salini stops, but then running normal route through St Paul's Bay. I am grateful to Barry White and Margaret Hampton for the information.
I couldn't do this without the masses of information produced by the enthusiast fraternity on various web forums and in the magazine MTN. You know who you are! I am also grateful to the bus operators and also individual bus owners and drivers who, in the ATP days, helped to expand my knowledge of what was then a poorly documented subject.
Malta by Bus is an unofficial website provided by transport enthusiast Brendan Fox of Peterborough, United Kingdom. All information is given in good faith but no guarantees can be given for accuracy. I have no links with any bus operator or the Maltese government. All photos are by Brendan Fox unless otherwise stated. The bus badges in the logo are from a photo by Karen Dexter. All content on this site is copyright © Brendan Fox 2007-2015.