Field Note: Transportation
How do people get around?
There are various forms of transportation in Malta. There is the Arriva Bus System, cars, taxis, even some with free wifi, horse and carriage and ferry boats to transport you to Gozo. The main forms of transportation are the buses, cars and taxis. I use the bus regularly as I don’t have a car and it is affordable and convenient. I have also traveled by taxi, horse and carriage and ferry. All are very convenient and even interesting.
How did I feel when I tried this way of getting around?
With the bus system, it is very modern and also normal to me being that I am from NYC. I will say, however, that it can be quite an adventure at times since the buses are sometimes too big for the streets they go through and the bus drivers drive a little crazy. Imagine being on a NYC bus and the bus driver is on a cell phone while driving; yep that happens here…A LOT!
Although taxis can be a bit expensive here, I have needed to take them from time to time and they are very modern and efficient, even a bit more than those in NYC. I have also traveled by ferry boat to/from Gozo, Malta’s sister island. It runs 24 hours a day since many people who live in Gozo, work in Malta. It was a lot of fun, very quick, although a bit rocky because the weather wasn’t great. It is also very modern with a restaurant and magazine shop.
As for the horse and carriage ride, my sister and I took one throughout Mdina which was a wonderful way to see the city because you really felt as if you went back in time. This method is more geared toward tourist, however, in the low season, when less people are here, they are available for short trips that are not tourist locations. Some people even have their very own horse and carriage that they ride down main roads and that is their personal form of transport.
Is this way of getting around connected to the culture and environment? How?
These methods of transport do have a cultural and environmental connection because before Arriva, Malta had a very elaborate, although old and dated, bus system that was privately owned. The buses were, unfortunately, in bad shape and being that there is no train system here, buses are much needed. The Arriva buses are environmentally friendly, hold more people and are more modern. I am grateful for the change as I know what the old buses were like because I rode one when I first visited Malta in 2008 and it was scary!
Horse and carriages are also connected because they are very traditional to Malta. It was and still is a form of transport whether for tourists or not. From time to time, while walking to school, I see a man riding his own personal horse and carriage as a way of getting around. Most people have cars here, and love them, but there are still many traditionalists who prefer to travel in a more simpler way.
Most students do travel on Arriva buses but others travel via private vans operated by the school they attend. It is the only public form of transportation on the island so if you don’t have a car, then the bus is necessary. As for transportation costs, buses range in price based on whether you are a resident or not and whether you are a student. A daily pass is 2.60€, weekly is 12.60€ but my student 30 day pass is 21€ or about $28 a month. As you can see I save a lot. If you are a resident, the daily and weekly passes are cut in half.