Malta Bus Stop
Photo Credit: Elora Kask

Public transportation in Malta can be stressing. Extremely stressing. But things are improving, albeit slowly!

If you’re someone who uses public transportation often, then these 4 tips will help you save time, as well as stay sane.

Plan In Advance

Malta isn’t London, where you can pop into any tube station any time of the day, and have the right train pick you up in 5 minutes.

Most of the bus routes in Malta only run in 30- or 60-minute intervals, making pre-planning absolutely crucial. So make use of the Tallinja iOS/Android app, or check your bus schedules on the Malta Public Transport website.

“Buses in Malta seem to only follow their schedule at the terminus, and pass their stops whenever they get there – be it late, early, or on time.”

It’s also smart not to aim for the last bus of the day, as missing it is, unfortunately, likely, and you’ll then be stuck, looking for a taxi.

Accept the Realities

The situation is what it is, and until it improves, there’s nothing you or I can do to make it better. The best thing we can do is learn to accept the reality and plan accordingly.

Buses in Malta are often late – it’s a fact. But as often as they’re late, they’re also early. This is especially the case late in the evening or at other times when there’s less traffic than usual.

Don’t ever expect a bus driver to wait around at the bus stop until it’s the “right time” to leave. Buses in Malta seem to only follow their schedule at the terminus, and pass their stops whenever they get there – be it late, early, or on time.

Whenever I’m forced to take the bus (which, luckily, isn’t very often), I tend to make absolutely sure that I’m well entertained and the waiting time doesn’t go to waste.

When I used the buses for a little while, I always aimed to get to the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the scheduled time, in order not to miss the bus if it happens to be early, saving me a potential 30-minute wait time.

Make Good Use of Your Time

No-one likes waiting. This is especially true when it’s not “your fault”, so to say. It can get very frustrating trying to be on time for a meeting, but having to depend on buses that themselves are rarely on time.

But getting angry and allowing it to ruin your day is also pointless. The best we can do in these situations is make the best possible use of our time.

Whenever I’m forced to take the bus (which, luckily, isn’t very often), I tend to make absolutely sure that I’m well entertained and the waiting time doesn’t go to waste.

You could bring a book with you, or even get some work or emails done on your smartphone or an iPad. And sometimes it’s just nice to listen to good music and chill out.

Just be mindful to still keep your eyes open, as the last thing you want to happen is waiting for half an hour for that bus, only to have it speed past the bus stop when it finally arrives, because you didn’t “hail it down” (yes, hailing buses down is still a thing!)

Use the Tallinja App

If you haven’t yet installed the app, do it!

This app is hands down the best thing that has happened to public transportation in Malta in years.

And it’s incredibly simple! Having realised that buses are rarely on schedule (and that sticking to the schedule is nearly impossible with the unpredictable traffic that we have), MPT decided to solve the problem from the other end.

The app – being connected to GPSs present in all buses – simply tells you how far a particular bus is from your stop at any given time.

This way, if your house is a 5-minute walk from the bus stop and you can see that the bus is 15 minutes away, you know that you can still heat up that toast before you need to head out.

In my opinion, it’s a fantastic concept, and definitely a big step towards sorting out the public transportation issues. Unfortunately, though, there’s still work to be done, and as of writing this article, you can’t fully depend on the app yet. There are often situations where the “arrival time” changes significantly with short or no notice, and cases where the bus in question simply disappears from the screen.

But something is better than nothing, and even with some errors, the app will definitely help you save lots of time that you’d otherwise spend in the midday sun waiting for a bus that seemingly never comes.

Bottom Line

It’s nice to hear that MPT are trying their best to make the bus service more efficient. Over the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of improvement, and continuing at the same rate, we may well have a decent and efficient bus system to use in the not-too-distant future.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe it’s *because* of all of the apocalyptic stories and complaints about the buses that prepared me for the worst, but I find Malta’s buses are generally on time, clean, well heated or air conditioned, and convenient. Yes, trips take longer than they would if I had a car or scooter, and I have to plan a little more than if I had my own personal transportation – but I get where I need to be, on time, in good condition, and for €26 a month.

  2. one example how “organized” MPT is …they produce maps of bus line again and again and every time with mistakes ! Bus map on terminus is also with mistakes : to Marku Tower in Bahar ic-Caqhaq can take bus 92 and 124 ! The same buses supposed to take you to Gharghur …well 124 and 92 go to Marsascala. This is result when you have German designed lines, map printed in Austria, Turkish and Chinese float, Sicilian/English/Maltese drivers and Spanish ownership ! 9 Circles of Hell…

  3. very rude drivers not helpful at all. buses always late. buses pass stops so fast at some comer stops that you do not have a chance to put up your hand and when you do stop them they say you were sleeping at the stop. in one month we used the bus many times a day only found one English driver older man with a pony tail that was so friendly and helpful to all passengers that got on and off his bus. if the bus drivers in Malta do not want to deal with the public why do they take these job, and why does the Malta transit hire them I heard so many tourist complain and say they will never come back to Malta.

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