It’s been two years since architect Jonathan Mizzi launched plans to convert Malta’s bus fleet into electric vehicles with a design based on the island’s traditional old buses.
Back then, Transport Minister Ian Borg hailed Mizzi Studios’ design as “stupendous”, Malta Public Transport (the company which operates the buses) said it could take mobility to the next level, and a huge event took place in Valletta to launch the concept.
However, since then, there’s been no official announcement at all.
Interviewed on Lovin Daily today, Mizzi said his plan was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic but he remains hopeful that it will be implemented.
“The government was and is very enthusiastic about our project and the public was very enthusiastic,” he said, citing a Lovin Malta poll which found that 90% were in favour of the bus concept.
“The intention was to carry out a feasibility study on how to make it a reality; obviously COVID-19 delayed it by a year and I know Transport Malta is looking into the funding aspect of it.”
Listing a number of EU funding mechanisms Malta can tap into, Mizzi noted the country is bound by an EU directive to start electrifying its bus fleet by 2025.
“It’s happening, it’s got to happen,” he said. “Legally we’re going to have to have electric buses. Will we have the offspring of our old Maltese heritage icons reinvented? I hope so and that’s a question for Transport Malta.”
Mizzi’s ‘Malta Bus Reborn’ design was first revealed in April 2019 by Lovin Tomorrow, a one-off newspaper published by Lovin Malta to mark April Fools.
Inspired by London’s New Routemaster, a redesign of the double-decker buses which graced the English capital in the 1950s, Mizzi proposed a similar concept for Malta.
It’s a throwback to the days when buses were multi-coloured, with each colour symbolising a route, and their design personalised by their drivers.
The traditional hand-painting line pattens and lettering (tberfil) that had characterised the old buses have been re-imagined through LED technology.
However, unlike the buses of old, Mizzi’s proposed bus fleet will be fully electric and emission-free, make use of a solar-powered roof, and come with state-of-the-art air-conditioning and cooling systems, middle doors for efficient boarding and disembarking and low floors and ramps to ensure full accessibility for people with disabilities.
“It is a concept that brings together something very nostalgic for us Maltese and something we are looking at for our future – sustainability, alternative means, electro-mobility,” Ian Borg said when launching the concept in October 2019.
“I commend architect Mizzi and his team for this impeccable design joining culture and progress and I hope that in the future this design can be tangibly realised.”
Lovin Malta has asked Transport Malta to give an update on whether it still intends to implement Mizzi’s Malta Bus Reborn concept.