The Maltese were the biggest bus users in the European Union in 2021, according to Eurostat.

The statistical arm of the European Union said that in EU countries in 2021, transport by coaches, buses and trolley buses had the highest share in the total transport performance in Malta (13.3%), with Hungary (12.8%) and Ireland (12.4%) coming next on the 2021 top list.

The highest share for transport by car was in Lithuania (91.7%), followed by the Netherlands (85.4%) and Finland (85.2%). Malta registered car use of 81.4%, higher than the EU average of 79.7%. 

While Malta registered the EU's highest share of bus usage, the figure is skewed by the lack of alternative forms of mass transportation, such as trains and metro systems. 

Cyprus, the only other EU country without registered train usage, also registered a higher-than-average usage of buses. 

Across EU member states, train usage averaged 5.6%.  

Malta made public bus rides free for all residents in October 2022. 

Preferred modes of travel in the EU.Preferred modes of travel in the EU.

Eurostat data measured transport usage in passenger-kilometres, with each representing one passenger travelling a distance of 1 kilometre.

In terms of air transport, Croatia registered the highest share (25.4%) of air passenger-kilometres in the total performance by all transport modes, followed by Bulgaria (16.3%) and Spain (13.1%). 

As for rail transport, Austria continues to be the top performer with the highest share (8.6%) of rail passenger-kilometres in the total transport performance, followed by France (8.3%) and the Netherlands (8%). 

When it comes to sea transport, the highest shares of passenger-kilometres by sea vessel were registered in Croatia (2.7%), Greece (1.6%) and Estonia (1.5%). 

Eurostat found that, overall, the car continued to be the dominant means of transport in all EU countries compared with journeys by train, bus and coach, plane or boat.

In 2021, transport by car accounted for 79.7% of passenger-kilometres across the EU, compared with 7.3% for planes, 7.1% for coaches, buses or trolley buses, 5.6% for trains, and 0.3% for sea boats. 

In a decade, much changed in the share of transport means used. The share of passenger-kilometres by passenger car in the total transport performance by all modes was 73.1% in 2011 and recorded small deviations around this figure until 2019.

But in 2020, there was an increase in the share of cars in the total transport performance to 81.9%.

This does not represent an actual increase in the number of passenger-kilometres by car as in 2020 there was a decrease to 3,541 billion passenger-kilometres from 4,278 billion passenger-kilometres in 2019.

It mainly reflects the strong decrease in transport by air due to the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on transportation, Eurostat noted.

In 2021, compared with 2011, the use of public means of transportation, such as trains, coaches, buses and trolley buses, registered a decrease: -1.9 percentage points in the share of coaches, buses and trolley buses (from 9.0% to 7.1%) and -1 percentage point in the share of trains (from 6.6% to 5.6%).

When looking at the share of air passenger-kilometres, it was 10.9% in 2011 and had constantly increased to 15% in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

The pandemic significantly impacted the sector, bringing its share down to the lowest point in the decade: 5.7% in 2020. The value registered in 2021 of 7.3% reflects the recovery of the air transport sector. 

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