Last week’s news that Malta Public Transport won an international Bus Excellence Awards was met with more than a couple of raised eyebrows. Even though Malta was acknowledged for “transforming public transport by bus into a reliable and comfortable service for passengers”, some people just weren’t having it.
Sparking a nostalgic extravaganza, one man went on the longest and most beautiful rants in a while about the old Maltese buses.
The super detailed comment described an entire experience on the old yellow buses, from the “ignorant but loveable owner-drivers” to the “mass of humanity squeezed together”.
“They say first impressions are the best and I just fell in love with the place,” the commenter, who had first arrived in Malta ten years ago. “The mad drivers didn’t put me off, in fact it was a great part of the journey!”
He even finished his comment off with an old-school photo from the streets of Malta, featuring a 45 bus stopping at Msida’s Junior College stop.
Here’s the statement in all its glory:
“…….bring back the old Malta bus, gas guzzling, fume ejecting, 60 year old LT buses, rope for a bell, Our Lady of Lourdes & half the driver’s family on the dash, big ignorant but loveable owner drivers, deciding not to do the last bus to Marsacsala if Juve were on Sky, throw the 3c change at the Germans who waited and waited or telling some English would be passengers for the umpteenth time, ‘NO Valetta’ as the sign on the front clearly stated ‘Airport’!! Malta lost something when the EU bureaucrats eventually got their way, travelling on the old bus was fun, like going back in time, felt like Cuba, 50 sitting and as many standing, negotiating the passage to alight was like scoring against an Italian defence! Mass of humanity squeezed together, beautiful young language students, grumpy old British ex pats, old Maltese pensioners going to the local Band club, the Irish heading to the Dubliner, Russians to Club 22, and of course some trying to get to work on time which I admit was probably quite trying in your suit and no AC, can’t all be on holiday!! But the Buses and the Drivers were a law onto themselves, I thought part of the uniqueness when I first arrived a decade ago this week, humping two large cases firstly into Valetta and changing for St Julians, stuck up beside the driver on top of the engine and it 35o outside, sweat pouring off me and finally when it offloaded me at the Scotsman stop and struggled down to the Alexandra I virtually collapsed into the pool, clothes and all!!! They say first impressions are the best and I just fell in love with the place, the 20c Italian Lira fare and the mad drivers didn’t put me off, in fact it was a great part of the journey!!!”
The rest of the reactions followed two strong patterns of either making fun of the award, or commending Malta Public Transport for steadily kicking off a new era for the country’s bus system.
“Considerable growth in the number of passengers?” one person asked. “In terms of what? their weight? given all the stress eating that bus system causes.”
“This is right up there with the Saudis being on the UN Human Rights Board and Robert Mugabe being appointed WHO Goodwill Ambassador,” another said.
Another person joked about how she actually saw more planes taking off from the Luqa airport than buses on the street.
However, negative comments were not the only order of the day.
“Considering what a stressful situation bus drivers deal with on the roads, what with crazy drivers, (some) ignorant passengers, bad narrow roads, and the obscene amount of traffic, I think the bus service has made an excellent improvement,” one comment said.
Another comment said that while Malta’s public transport may not be the best, it “definitely ain’t the worst”, which is something the man said he realised while on holiday in Sicily.
A British woman who visited Malta earlier this April even went on to say that she wished the service back in the UK was as cheap and easy to use.
No matter what you think about the buses though, it seems like the nostalgic love for the old yellow buses is widespread.