Major changes to routes and timetables were made in late 2015, with further changes from March 6 and April 17, 2016. The 2-page route-by-route summary timetable has been updated to show the changes from April 17, 2016, as has the detailed timetable of services from Bugibba and Qawra. The timetable for all routes in Gozo remains valid. The maps have also been updated to show the March 6 and April 17 changes. See further down this page for links.
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 has been introduced to replace the blue and white colours. Routes and timetables were initially unchanged, but a new network was introduced in 2015: Gozo routes from June 21 and Malta routes in two phases from November 22 and December 20.
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. Route X4 is a limited stop service linking Valletta with the Airport and beyond, whilst X1 to X3 link the Airport with Cirkewwa, Sliema and Bugibba respectively. Numbers in the 100s and 200s are local routes not serving Valletta, whilst Gozo bus services are numbered in the 300s.
Exceptions are Valletta local routes 130, 131 and 133, also route 122 from Valletta to Mater Dei Hospital. 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 on popular routes such as Sliema to Valletta and Rabat to Bugibba. The new route network includes increased frequencies on these routes which should hopefully help.
Tripadvisor has a well researched article on bus services in Malta which includes the latest changes and lists the bus services serving the main attractions.
Fares and Tickets
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 which costs 2.00 in summer (mid-June to mid-October), reduced to 1.50 in winter. 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.
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 may also be selling the 7-day ticket. Penalty fares are payable if you travel without a valid ticket.
Local residents have been encouraged to obtain the new tallinja smartcard (see the Malta Public Transport website for further details). Tallinja 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 was no initial charge for the card in 2015, but from January 2016 there is a 5 admin charge, and a minimum top-up amount of 20. Non-residents can apply for a card giving a foreign address (or a hotel address), but two weeks must be allowed for delivery and there is a 6 postage charge to addresses outside Malta. A photo is required. Only frequent or long-term visitors would benefit from obtaining a card.
Maps of Bus Routes
PRINCIPAL ROUTES of interest to tourists are shown on this nice independently produced map (not my map but linked with permission).
This official map is on the MPT website.
For those requiring more detail I have produced the following maps in pdf format. They include the changes from 17 April 2016 as well as the March changes.
MAP 1 (April 2016) - Valletta routes. Bus routes linking areas of Malta with Valletta.
MAP 1A (April 2016) - Valletta routes: Central area. An enlargement of the central area of Map 1 showing routes to/from Valletta.
MAP 2 (April 2016) - Other routes (those not serving Valletta): to and from Sliema, Airport, Hospital, University etc, also local routes.
MAP 2A (April 2016) - Other routes: Central area. An enlargement of the central area of Map 2 (routes not serving Valletta).
GOZO - includes a general frequency guide.
BUGIBBA Bus Map including all bus stops in the Bugibba, Qawra and St Paul's Bay area.
VALLETTA Bus Station location plan and list of departure bays.
The latest changes to timetables from April 17, 2016 are listed here on the MPT website.
Specially prepared for this website are the following timetables in pdf format:
TIMETABLE SUMMARY: Routes 1 to 81, Routes 82 to 280 and X1 to X4
Shows departure times route by route, from each end of the route. Designed to be used in conjunction with the maps. Incorporates the various changes from April 17, 2016, as well as those from March 6 when the University routes were extended to both start and finish at the 'Sptar' stops at the main entrance to Mater Dei Hospital.
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.
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.
© Brendan Fox www.maltabybus.com 2007-2016