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Malta’s Buses Could Get Nostalgic Revamp As Public Transport Operator Hails Design For New Electric Fleet

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A fleet of multi-coloured electric buses could well be hitting the roads in the near future, after Malta Public Transport endorsed a designer’s exciting plans to revamp the fleet.

“Malta Public Transport is delighted to support Jonathan Mizzi and his team in their vision of creating Malta’s future electric bus,” Malta Public Transport general manager Konrad Pulé said. “We believe that the iconic traditional design combined with modern technology can be part of the solution to take mobility to the next level in Malta.”

Mizzi’s plans for the bus fleet were revealed yesterday by Lovin Tomorrow, a one-off newspaper published by Lovin Malta to mark April Fools’, and were also picked up by Wallpaper, the world-famous architecture and design magazine.

Transport Minister Ian Borg hailed the design as “stupendous” and praised Mizzi for managing to fuse nostalgia with futurism. Transport Malta confirmed it fully supports Mizzi’s initiative, which is in line with the Maltese government’s plan for the island to become an electric vehicle nation within the next decade.

Visualisation 04 Mizzi Studio Malta Bus Reborn

“This is definitely an ambitious endeavour utilizing smart and sustainable technology that, if fulfilled, will contribute towards Malta’s meeting its European and International environmental obligations, improving air quality as well as making Malta a cleaner, healthier place live-in,” Transport Malta said. “We fully support such an initiative.”

Mizzi’s design was also endorsed by other government bodies, namely Heritage Malta and Arts Council Malta

“We welcome Mizzi Studio’s innovative concept of re-awakening the nostalgic and historic value of the Malta bus which remains a salient and colourful note in Malta’s industrial heritage and identity,” Heritage Malta curator Justin Vella said. “We are delighted to be able to contribute to an initiative that helps us appreciate our transport and social history, giving it a platform from which to continue growing.”

“It is Arts Council Malta’s pleasure to support designer Jonathan Mizzi through the Malta Arts Fund’s Project Support Grant,” a council spokesperson said. “His vision is not only highly functional, but also demonstrates a deep understanding of Malta’s traditional bus fleet whilst simultaneously paying tribute to its artistic value. Arts Council Malta embraces Mr. Mizzi’s artistic concept and supports him and his team in the field of automative design.”

Visualisation 01 Mizzi Studio Malta Bus Reborn

Mizzi Studio’s design is a blast from the past, from a time when buses were colour-coded according to their destination

The traditional hand-painting line pattens and lettering (tberfil) that had characterised the old buses have been re-imagined through LED technology, which will allow drivers to customise their own vehicles as they had in the good old days.

The chrome bumper adopts the form of angel wings, often seen on traditional buses, to symbolise victory and flight, while an abstract Maltese cross would be carved into the rear of the bus as a symbol of national pride. Badges of a Maltese cross, along with horseshoe badges that were traditionally fixed to the buses to ward off evil spirits, are also included in this new design.

The fleet will be fully electric and emission-free, with state-of-the-art airconditioning and cooling systems, middle doors for efficient boarding and disembarking and low floors and ramps to ensure full accessibility for people with disabilities.

Visualisation 05 Mizzi Studio Malta Bus Reborn

“I fell in love with our colourful Art Deco buses as a child,” Mizzi said. “They were so friendly, almost like Pixar Cars characters with their anthropomorphic features like their cute hooded headlamp eyes, split windscreens that gave them a puppy-dogs eyes expression and large smiling chrome bumpers.”

“To lose them was a devastating blow to Malta’s identity as they were truly one of our country’s greatest icons. Since 2012, my studio has been developing a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly bus that pays homage to its heritage and aims to fill the large cultural gap that was left behind. I hope it will enable us as a nation to move forward whilst staying true to ourselves and have a national bus fleet that makes us proud to be Maltese.

A free public exhibition detailing the steps in Mizzi Studio’s design process will be held between July and September in the Parliament building, during which a 1:6 model of the proposed bus will be unveiled.

What do you make of the designs? Let us know in the comments below

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