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Transport in Malta

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Title: Transport in Malta  
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Transport in Malta

View of Gżira showing traffic on Triq ix-Xatt and boats in Marsamxett Harbour

The transportation system in Malta is small but extensive, and the islands' domestic system of public transport is reliant on buses and taxis, although there were both a railway and a tramway in the past.

Malta's primary international connections are the airport at Gudja and by sea mainly the Grand Harbour, and the Malta Freeport (the 3rd largest transshipment port in the Mediterranean Sea).


  • Land transport 1
    • Roads 1.1
    • Buses 1.2
    • Railway 1.3
  • Maritime transport 2
    • Ferry services 2.1
    • Merchant marine 2.2
  • Air transport 3
  • Malta Transport Museum 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Land transport


Triq l-Indipendenza in Ħamrun.

Traffic in Malta drives on the left, as in the UK. Car ownership in Malta is exceedingly high given the very small size of the islands. The country has the fifth-highest number of vehicles per capita in the world as of 2009, with 607 motor vehicles per 1,000 people.[1] The number of registered cars in 1990 amounted to 182,254, giving an automobile density of 582 per km².[2]

Malta has 3,096 kilometres of road, 2,704 km (87.3%) of which are paved and 392 km are unpaved as of 2008.[3]

The official road user guide for Malta is The Highway Code.[4]


Traditional Maltese bus
Modern buses at Valletta City Gate Bus Station

Buses are the primary method of public transport for the Maltese Islands and have been in operation there since 1905, offering a cheap and frequent service to many parts of Malta and Gozo. The vast majority of buses on Malta depart from a terminus in Valletta.

The traditional classic Maltese buses, which were in operation until 2011 and still provide tourist-oriented services to this day, have become visitor attractions in their own right due to their uniqueness, and are depicted on many Maltese advertisements to promote tourism as well as on gifts and merchandise for tourists. Prior to their reform there were approximately 500 buses in public transit service, most of them privately owned by the bus drivers themselves, and operated to a unified timetable set by the transport authority. Malta's buses carried approximately 31 million passengers per year.[5] On any one day, half the bus fleet worked on the public transport network (called "route buses"), while the other half were used for private tours and school transportation.

On July 2011 a new public transport network was installed by Transport Malta (the regulating authority) and on 3 July 2011 it started being operated by Arriva Malta, which was 66% owned by Arriva Group (owned by German company Deutsche Bahn and 33% owned by Malta's Tumas Group), operating as the sole operator on a 10 year contract and running a new 264-strong fleet of buses in a turquoise and cream livery. Unlike the system it replaced, the buses were owned and operated by a single company with the drivers working as employees of Arriva Malta.

When Arriva ceased operations on 1 January 2014 due to financial difficulties, the company was nationalised as Malta Public Transport by the Maltese government as an interim measure while a new bus operator could be found.[6][1] As of October 2014 the government has chosen Autobuses Urbanos de León as its preferred bus operator for the country, and although the agreement has yet to be fully determined and signed, it is planned that they will being operation in January 2015.[7]


Between 1883 and 1931 Malta had a railway line that connected the capital city of Valletta to the army barracks at Mtarfa / Mdina and a number of towns and villages.

Maritime transport

The Gozo ferry MV Malita departs at Ċirkewwa.
The Malta-Sicily ferry MV Jean De La Valette at the Grand Harbour

Malta has three large natural harbours on its main island. There are also two man-made harbours that connect the islands of Malta and Gozo.

Ferry services

A frequent daily passenger and car ferry service runs between the islands of Malta and Gozo between Ċirkewwa Harbour and Mġarr Harbour.

There is also a ferry terminal at the Grand Harbour that connects Malta to Pozzallo and Catania in Sicily.

Merchant marine

1,323 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totalling 27,208,819 GRT/44,617,877 tonnes deadweight (DWT)
Ships by type
bulk 440, cargo 334, chemical tanker 54, combination bulk 10, combination ore/oil 12, container 75, liquefied gas 4, livestock carrier 3, multi-functional large-load carrier 1, passenger 6, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 270, refrigerated cargo 39, roll on/roll off 45, short-sea passenger 9, specialised tanker 3, vehicle carrier 17

This includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Australia 4, Austria 6, Bangladesh 1, Belgium 3, Bulgaria 19, Canada 2, China 16, Croatia 14, Cuba 1, Cyprus 7, Denmark 3, Estonia 5, Finland 1, Germany 54, Greece 627, Hong Kong 12, Iceland 3, India 10, Iran 2, Israel 26, Italy 36, Japan 2, Latvia 24, Lebanon 6, Monaco 29, Netherlands 10, Nigeria 2, Norway 43, Poland 29, Portugal 2, Romania 15, Russia 85, Saudi Arabia 1, Slovenia 2, South Korea 5, Spain 1, Switzerland 54, Syria 4, Turkey 84, Ukraine 25, United Arab Emirates 3, United Kingdom 4, United States 10 (2002 est.)

Air transport

An Air Malta Airbus A320

Malta International Airport is the only airport serving the Maltese Islands. It is built on the land formerly occupied by the RAF Luqa air base. A heliport is also located there, but the scheduled service to Gozo ceased in 2006. From June 2007 to August 2012, a three-times daily floatplane service, operated by HarbourAir Malta, linked the sea terminal in Grand Harbour to Mgarr harbour in Gozo.[8]

In the past there were two further airfields which were in operation during World War II and into the 1960s, located at Ta'Qali and Ħal Far. They have now since been closed, the land on the former has now been converted into a national park, stadium and the Crafts Village visitor attraction. The Malta Aviation museum is also situated here, preserving several aircraft including Hurricane and Spitfire fighters which defended the island in World War II. Ħal Far has been converted into an industrial estate, a race track and an immigration reception centre.

The national airline is Air Malta

Malta Transport Museum

The Ministry of Culture of Malta sanctioned Touring Club Malta to set up a Transport Museum.[9]


  1. ^ - Transportation statistics"NationMaster". Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  2. ^ Sammut & Savona-Ventura, "Petrol Lead in a Small Island Environment", International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine 9 (1996) at 33-40.
  3. ^ "CIA World Factbook - Malta".  
  4. ^ "Land Transport". Government of Malta. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Debono, James (22 November 2006). "Transportation statistics". Business Today. Retrieved 19 February 2007. 
  6. ^ "Arriva Future Decided". news. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Dalli, Kim (1 October 2014). "New bus operator to start in January".  
  8. ^ Barry, Duncan (16 August 2012). "Harbour Air halted seaplane service for the summer". Malta Today. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Camilleri, Joseph C. (12 August 2006). "Ix-xewqa ta’ Philip Agius... Muzew tat-Transport". It-Torċa. 

External links

  • Images of Maltese buses
  • Live Traffic Cams
  • Transport Malta
  • Malta Public Transport
  • Living in Malta
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