When I wrote this in the year 2000, all buses on Malta and neighbouring island Gozo were a sight to behold – and to experience! However, all has now changed, and the buses are modern and have air conditioning. You no longer have to stoop to get to your seat – they are tall enough to allow you to walk inside the bus.
The buses in Malta are really something else. The newest models date from the 1970s and all are traditional British makes, such as Leyland, AEC, Ford, Bedford.
Nowadays (2000) all are painted yellow with an orange stripe down the side. There is no destination film, just a route number shown behind the windscreen. All buses are privately owned and the cab interiors are usually decorated in some way or another – most have a religious picture or two, mostly a madonna, a cross or a sticker proclaiming “I Love Jesus”. However, some have pictures of more down to earth subjects and boast: “I love sexy girls”. Some have framed photographs showing off the bus and its proud owner.
Postcards, posters and books about the buses of Malta are on sale everywhere on the island. Originally each route had its own livery. Later the island was divided into public transport zones and the buses of each zone were painted in a different colour scheme. At some point all buses were painted green. The reason they are now all yellow and orange is – at least according to a Scotsman (who had been visiting the island for the past fifteen years) we met while waiting for the bus in the blazing sun at Ta’ Qali – that with a view to improving road safety the government decreed that green buses should be no older than five years. The proud Maltese bus owners’ solution to that was simply to paint the buses yellow! After that the government gave up.
Phil Seed, September 2000