WATCH: After a ten year absence from our roads, a Malta bus will be changed to electric
Ten years ago, the fleet of old Malta buses were withdrawn from Maltese roads. A decade later, some of them are being restored and are appearing on the roads again with more modern systems which pollute less, including one which works on gas. At the Ħal Farruġ industrial zone, the first electric bus is being built.
Ten years ago, Mikiel Cutajar nicknamed iż-Żinnu retired after more than 40 y ears as a bus driver on the Zurrieq route. At the same time, the old buses were also retired. Today, together with his son, Manuel he is restoring one of them.
This project began eight years ago so that the old buses will not be forgotten.
As soon as a bus arrives at Manuel’s garage it is dismantled and an inspection is carried out of what can be kept before it is sent to a mechanic.
“We wash the engine, and where necessary we blast it, it goes to the mechanic to be upgraded to the LPG, dual fuel system – so that it will have an emission value of Euro6”.
Manuel said that they have the first renovated bus which has been approved by Transport Malta which has a Euro6 engine which means that it pollutes much less than before.
Many of the vehicles date back to the 1950s, and like this one, have a wooden framework. Manuel explained that when the wood is still good it is kept and fixed, but if not, it is rebuilt with a new structure made of galvanised steel.
He said that the restoration of every vehicle takes a year’s work – with the restoration going into the smallest detail – from the seats which are being re-upholstered to the cursive painted letters known as tberfil , being designed by Joe Farrugia.
“We are a group of six working on these restorations. Two on the structure, two the inside finishings, fitting of seats and nickel and two on the preparations and paint.”
The woodwork is being carried out by Manuel’s father who explains how the roof of the bus is made.
“The wood is overlapped, as I am showing you here. After we work on the wood, these days the famous fibreglass has been introduced with the wood.”
Apart from the restoration, a new bus is also being built here on the same model of those who used to build in the 50s and 60s – but it will work on electricity and be accessible for wheelchairs.
Some of these restored buses can once again be seen on our roads on a route near the Triton fountain which goes to Sliema so that the Maltese as well as tourists can experience the buses which up to ten years ago used to carry thousands of passengers and were part of Malta’s daily life.