The orange buses of Malta’s past are icons of our island.
Most of us will nostalgically remember riding on them to get around, maybe sitting in that special front seat up near the driver – if you were lucky enough to get such a desirable seat, that is.
Whilst they may be a thing of the past for most people, one Maltese company made up of passionate bus drivers is doing all they can to make sure they stick around – and you are invited to ride along with them.
The Malta Bus Coop is made up of a group of bus drivers who wanted to stick with their old rides
When the new national bus system was introduced in Malta in 2011, several bus drivers either gave up their old buses to join the new company or used the change as a reason to move on into retirement or a new career.
There were, however, some drivers who did not want to give up their traditional xarabank.
A number of buses were kept for preservation, whilst others that weren’t working anymore were destroyed.
But around 21 traditional buses remained and were restored to perfect condition.
And now they form Malta Bus Coop
The drivers provide people with the opportunity to tour the island while riding on a slice of Maltese history. Some of the buses that form part of the fleet date back as many as 55 years and have served as a means of income for some families for decades.
The buses were all restored with an LPG system, making them more environmentally friendly, and were all given a fresh coat of paint ahead of their new lives as tour buses.
We often think of the traditional buses in the iconic orange and yellow, but they actually come in various colours
And there’s a reason behind each of the colour variations. Back in the day, a large portion of the Maltese population was illiterate, meaning the couldn’t read or write. So, they used colours to denote the specific routes of each bus.
For example, the bus that followed the route for Mellieħa was dark blue on top and light blue on the bottom.
Malta Bus Coop has been around for one year now, but it’s a plan that’s been seven years in the making
Since 2011, the buses have been undergoing extreme restoration, making sure they’re in top shape and ready to take on the Maltese roads again. And now that they’ve settled in to their new routine, the Coop is getting ready to expand and take on new projects in the coming years.
You can book your own traditional xarabank for any of your upcoming events, from hens parties to tours to photoshoots
Simply follow this link to get booking.
The Coop offers a wide variety of tours all over the island, including some super interesting ones like the Fireworks Tour and Malta by Night Tour. Then there’s also the more traditional tours that will teach you all about the history and culture of the island.
You can also check out the fleet and request your favourite bus. Each of the buses has been given a fresh coat of paint, and has had detailed work done by Ġużeppi from San Ġwann – a passionate artist renowned for his tberfil work, and who has been personalising buses for decades
The buses are also equipped with an audio guide which gives a brief history of the classic Maltese Buses and the beauty of the Maltese Islands.
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