New Gozo network from June 21, 2015 - a new map has been added (see below) which also contains a frequency guide.
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 August 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 to June 30, 2015
Until June 30 the old fare system dating from Arriva days remains in force. There is a flat rate on Malta of 1.30, valid for 2 hours. Only a little more is the day ticket at 1.50, valid for the whole day as the name suggests, whereas a 7-day ticket costs just 6.50. Note that the 7-day ticket expires at the end of the 7th day (it is not a 168 hour ticket like in some countries). There are also tickets for 30 days and 90 days. None of these tickets are valid on Night services (route numbers starting with N), on which there is a flat fare of 2.50 for each single journey.
The child fare for 2 hours is 0.30. A child day ticket costs 0.50, whilst the child 7 day ticket is 2.30. Children under 3 years old travel free, and those aged 11 and above must pay the adult fare.
Fares for travel wholly in Gozo are 1.00 for 2 hours and 1.50 for a day ticket (children 0.30 and 0.50 respectively). Tickets are not interchangeable between Malta and Gozo so if you have a 7-day Malta ticket and visit Gozo for the day, you will need to buy a separate day ticket when travelling on your first bus in Gozo.
If possible you are recommended to buy tickets before boarding the bus, although tickets are also available from the driver. You can buy all tickets from kiosks located at Valletta bus station, Bugibba bus station, Malta International Airport and Sliema Ferries. There are also ticket machines at various locations. Scratch-off 1-day and 7-day tickets can be bought in advance at the same price as normal tickets - you scratch off the date when you want to use it. You always board at the front of the bus, and if you already have a valid ticket you need to show it to the driver on boarding the vehicle. You should of course retain your ticket in case you are requested to show it to a company inspector. Penalty fares are payable if you travel without a valid ticket.
Fares and Tickets from July 1, 2015
A completely new fare system is being introduced from July 1st. Local residents have been encouraged to obtain the new Tallinja smartcard, which has its own website www.tallinja.com. This is a stored-value card which basically allows residents to make a single journey (within two hours) for 75c, with further discounts for monthly tickets, senior citizens, children and students.
Tourists and other visitors will find bus travel to be more expensive than before. The only tickets available from the bus driver will be the two-hour single ticket for 1.50 in winter or 2.00 in summer (June to October, exact dates to be advised). On night buses the fare will be 3.00. Passengers may change buses within the two hour period to get to their destination as part of a one-way journey, but 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. Passengers are encouraged to have the correct amount of money for the fare if possible.
Two new tickets will, however, be available from August (date to be confirmed). The first will effectively be a 'carnet' of 12 two-hour tickets for 15, making 1.25 per journey. This can be used by more than one person (so if two people are travelling the card will be swiped twice). The other ticket available "from August" is a 7-day unlimited travel Explore Card costing 21 (children aged 4-10 pay 15). Unlike the previous 7-day ticket it will be valid in Gozo as well as Malta, and will also be valid on night buses. Presumably these tickets will have to be purchased before boarding the bus.
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 in 2014 the summer routes were not introduced until July 18th due to industrial relations problems). Although dated 2014 these timetables are believed correct as at June 2015. Route and timetable changes are expected from August 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 links to Summer Timetables and Winter Timetables. These are pretty much identical except that the summer link has a list of the changes introduced in July 2014. Note that the winter link erroneously includes summer routes 37A and 71A, and the night routes shown under winter are believed to be the summer timetables (in winter I think only the N11, N13 and N91 run).
Also note that route 205 is missing from both the winter and summer 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 were incorrect and had 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. Buses from Qawra are missing out the Wileg and Kennedy stops and are running directly to the coast road via Triq Kennedy. In Pembroke buses divert away from the main road and run via White Rocks and St Andrews. Northbound buses are diverted via Maghtab thereby missing out the scenic part of the coast road and the Salini stops, but then run 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.