Routes and Timetables
The Bus Network
For such a small island, there are a large number of bus routes, and you are never very far from a bus stop. Frequencies are good on the main routes, but less so on other routes, and it often pays to check timetables.
There is some logic to the route numbering system. TD routes are branded Tallinja Direct and are non-stop or limited stop routes linking key points at a higher fare. Routes prefixed X are also limited stop but call at more places than the TD routes and normal fares are charged: X4 links Valletta with the Airport and beyond, whilst X1 to X3 link the Airport with Cirkewwa, Sliema and Bugibba respectively.
One and two digit route numbers, that is numbers in the series 1-99, run to and from Valletta bus station, and run roughly in geographical order in an anti-clockwise direction around Valletta. Numbers in the 100s and 200s are generally routes not serving Valletta (but see exceptions below). Gozo bus services are numbered in the 300s. Finally, the network of Night Routes linking various parts of Malta with the bars, clubs and restaurants of San Giljan are numbered in the N series and run on Friday and Saturday nights, although the Valletta service runs every night.
There are a few exceptions to the rule: Valletta local routes are numbered 130 and 133, whilst route 122 runs from Valletta to Mater Dei Hospital. Also, to confuse matters further, three routes in the 2xx series which used to terminate at Mater Dei Hospital have been extended through to Valletta.
A recent development is the introduction of a demand responsive minibus service branded Tallinja On Demand (formerly TD Plus) which operates between Valletta and the Sliema, St Julian's and Pembroke area; trips are booked using the Tallinja app.
In Summer 2021 new routes were introduced designed to connect with the new Gozo Fast Ferry, serving the Lascaris stop in Valletta, not far from the bottom of the Barrakka Lift. The new routes link Lascaris to Valletta bus station (route X133), also Mater Dei Hospital via the University (route 300). A further route numbered 150 provides a peak hour link for students attending MCAST in Paola.
OFFICIAL TIMETABLES on the MPT website show individual routes - you need to know the route number. There is no official timetable book; timetable leaflets have been produced in the past but printed information is likely to be restricted to a route map.
The Tallinja App can be downloaded to your smartphone from the iPhone App Store or the Google Play Store. This shows which routes serve your closest stop, and also shows realtime information with the estimated time of arrival of buses at your nearest stop within the next 30 minutes.
Google maps also has detailed timings from most bus stops. Particularly useful is the Google Maps app on Android and Apple devices where most stops show the next 25 departures, and individual timings can be clicked on to show the whole journey with timings at every stop served.
The official Journey Planner is getting better but it is difficult to get meaningful information from it.
Timetables produced for this website
Due to the lack of official printed timetables I do produce from time to time my own 24-page unofficial timetable summary in pdf format for this website. It shows all bus routes in Malta and Gozo in numerical order (more or less), with departure times from the start points, also approximate journey times to principal intermediate points are shown as a rough guide. It is compiled by myself to assist travellers and enthusiasts:
MALTA & GOZO UNOFFICIAL BUS TIMETABLE:
HIGH SUMMER 2022 Valid from July 3 to early October with enhanced frequencies on several routes compared with the summer timetable which was introduced on June 12. The routes affected are 31, 41, 42, 53, 212, 221, 222 and TD13. Version of 16/07/22 (route 53 updated).
EARLY SUMMER 2022 Valid from June 12 to July 2. Version uploaded 12/06/22.
WINTER 2021-22 Version of May 2022. The Winter 2022-23 timetable is likely to be similar.
WARNING - Scheduled running times as shown on the MPT website generally vary according to the time of day and day of the week, also the time of year (and in some cases look rather suspect and inconsistent). Journey times shown in the timetable summary are based on typical winter off-peak timings (Monday to Friday early afternoon) as per the website. At quiet times, for example early morning or late evening, buses are liable to depart from intermediate points several minutes earlier, and at peak times and in summer they may run later than shown. In any case, once a bus has set off from its start point I'm not sure to what extent drivers adhere to intermediate timings en route - it's always best to arrive at the stop in plenty of time, or arm yourself with the Tallinja App which gives realtime information.
The following routes are extended to popular beaches each summer (mid-June to mid-October): 49 is extended from Ghadira to Armier and runs daily, 101 is extended from Mgarr to Gnejna Bay and 109 and 109A are extended from Bajjada to Ghar Lapsi, whilst 74 runs down the hill to and from Blue Grotto en route. Several routes have enhanced frequencies in summer, notably 212, 221 to 223, 225 and night route N13, also 322 on Gozo. Certain TD and Night routes are summer only.
Summer timings in 2022 commenced on Sunday June 12th with further enhancements from July 3rd. The Summer timetable runs until mid-October (October 9th in 2021).
For those interested in past route changes I have started a list of recent changes to bus routes in Malta and Gozo.
Temporary Diversions - The nature of the road network is such that bus routes are frequently diverted because of roadworks or special events, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for weeks or months. It is beyond the scope of this website to mention all but the longest term diversions. You can find details on the Service Updates page of the Malta Public Transport website. Short notice changes are sometimes mentioned on the MPT Facebook page.