The shabby bus terminus outside Valletta will be moved down the road to St James Ditch, clearing out the "cemetery of old buses" as part of the project to give new life to the capital city's main entrance.

Transport Minister Austin Gatt said moving the terminus to the area currently used as an open-air market on Sundays would pave the way for the space around the Tritons Fountain to become pedestrian-only.

Rather than six bus lanes, described by the minister as a "cemetery" for the aging vehicles, the approach to the city would be upgraded to become the entrance worthy of a World Heritage Site, Dr Gatt said.

He said the space would undergo a complete transformation, looking more like the newly-restored St George's Square and would complement the Renzo Piano project for City Gate. In fact, the terminus area was added to the brief of the world-renowned Italian architect when the Prime Minister and Dr Gatt met him in Paris a few days ago.

If the planning authority issued the permits by May, the new terminus would be completed by the end of the year when the new public transport system started to operate, Dr Gatt said.

It is planned to have spaces for 15 buses, as opposed to the current 41, because the reformed transport system will mean fewer buses will be idle. It will also have better facilities, with rest areas for drivers, passengers and transport officials. The kiosks will be relocated and upgraded.

Idle buses will be parked around the corner in the ditch that runs parallel to ─áilormu Cassar Avenue.

The project is expected to cost €3.3 million, or 60 per cent of the cost of Mr Piano's original option to have the terminus relocated underground. The new terminus will cover about 3,500 square metres, down from the present 9,500. Dr Gatt said discussions were still to be held with the hawkers with the aim of finding a suitable alternative location for the Sunday open-air market.

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