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Democrat Januray-February 2011 (Number 122)

Malta's buses

by Miles and Miles

Malta's yellow buses to be replaced by order of the EU

A consortium including Arriva (now owned by Deutche Bahn) has won the contract to operate buses on Malta. This represents a blow for hundreds of current operators, many of them self-employed of the heritage bus fleet, who will be out of work when the new contract starts in July 2011. As part of the set-up, Arriva is refurbishing then shipping out a large batch of bendy-buses which the London Mayor has decreed to be unwanted, then shipping them to Malta. Of course, Arriva will be wanting drivers and engineers, so there is hope for owner operators to get some wages out of the deal. Quite how the bendy buses will cope on the roads, villages and towns does not seem to have been thought out.

Virtually all of the heritage buses currently running on Malta's streets are recycled and refurbished many times, some ex-London, others from different parts of the left-hand driving world. The vast majority of these buses are in good working order, but will be destined for the scrap heap. The reason for this upheaval? Malta is now part of the EU, which insists that all buses within its boundaries comply with Euro emission regulations, and conform to the disability regulations now in force across the EU. The older buses complied with neither. The bright livery of Malta's bus fleet will be supplanted by Arriva's corporate turquoise and off-white livery.