As a trip down memory lane, a piece of Malta’s heart and a centrepiece of our heritage, the traditional Maltese Bus is loved by all. Their original purpose was to take passengers from A to B, but they were and still are so much more than that.
The traditional Maltese buses were sadly phased out by 2011, however because these buses are privately owned, some owners have taken the time to restore them to their prime. Thanks to these owners, the buses can now be seen gracefully gliding Malta’s roads once again. When hopping onboard a traditional Maltese bus, nostalgia hits harder than ever. You’re visited by memories of waiting to board a bus near the Triton Fountain outside the Valletta City Gate or catching
your after-school transport. Upon sitting with one arm leaning over the window with the warm, summer breeze blowing in your face, you’re reminded of a time where everything was simple, peaceful and relaxing. Lacking air conditioners and reclining seats, the traditional Maltese buses were as raw as it gets. Even the simple gesture of pulling the rope that rings the bell to signal your stop brings back memories of simpler times.
Inside view of a traditional Maltese Bus
When selecting the icons and subjects to use in our Malta in a Nutshell series, the traditional Maltese bus was the first image that came to mind. These buses saw every crevice of the colour spectrum. This was mainly due to the fact that they were designed to represent a local town or city. For example, the green buses expressed the Valletta-Sliema routes, the red buses were from Birkirkara, the white buses where associated with Mellieħa and so on.
The buses are full of character since they’ve all been customized by their owners with pieces of chrome, Tberfil lettering and decorative elements. This meant that no two buses were the same. However, the last of these buses on the road were all yellow with an orange horizontal stripe across the whole bus. Because these are the most iconic colour palette of all the traditional buses, we simply had to choose this palette to represent the iconic beauty as a whole.
The scope of this series was to combine two interlinking elements which were symbolic of each other, or that simply couldn’t work in solitude. We aimed to represent a time where there were no mobile applications to hop onto a public bus; instead, just the old Maltese Lira coins and tickets. Therefore, we chose the bus ticket to act as the frame element above these beautiful, symbolic buses, as you can’t have one without the other. Without a ticket, there’d be no buses, and without buses,
there’d be no ticket. This simply designed ticket, which also featured a horizontal stripe on it, can be seen in our ‘Malta’s Ride’ feature. After choosing the bus for this series, we had to pick a protagonist to act as a representative for traditional Maltese buses as a whole. Iż-Żunżan, our chosen man, was born and raised in a family of bus owners and drivers and so, has been his life since day one. Watch our interview with Iż-Żunżan in the video below (and try to hold back the tears).
Malta’s Ride Promo
The love Raymond (a.k.a. Iż-Żunżan) has for the traditional Maltese buses allows you to appreciate the bond between a man and his work. For some people, work is just way to put food on the table but for
Raymond, his work is also his passion. His children are also enthusiasts of the moving icons! It’s almost as though the Maltese buses are a piece of their DNA.
Malta’s Ride Limited
Raymond isn’t too keen on how the traditional Maltese buses have been phased out and we agree. However, change is inevitable. In no way does this mean that we should just forget about them, but rather, the
opposite. This is why we’ve taken the opportunity to recreate Malta’s iconic buses in multiple forms. It’s these memories that will always put a smile on your face as you gaze upon this nostalgic piece.