What if Malta’s iconic buses could return to local roads as electric, air conditioned, comfortable and accessible vehicles?

The idea sounds outlandish, but a local designer has crafted a vision to do just that.

Come July, parliament building will host an exhibition featuring scale models of futuristic-looking buses dreamt up by designers at the London-based Mizzi Studio, and detail the steps in the seven-year design process that it took to develop them.

The buses blend characteristic features of the buses of old, such as the chrome bumpers and hand-painted lettering (tberfil), with more modern-day features – think LED lighting and electric motors.  

“Losing Malta’s buses was a devastating blow to Malta’s identity,” said designer and Mizzi Studio founder Jonathan Mizzi.

“They were one of the country’s greatest icons”.

The proposal would reintroduce different colours to Malta's bus fleet.The proposal would reintroduce different colours to Malta's bus fleet.

Those buses were retired in 2011, and the architect never quite got over the sting of losing them to more generic-looking public transport vehicles. 

“I fell in love with our colourful art deco buses as a child. They were so friendly, almost like Pixar Cars,” he said, thinking back to his childhood. 

Mr Mizzi, whose design studio has amassed a list of accolades under its belt, already has an influential fan base backing the concept. 

Malta Public Transport’s general manager Konrad Pule’ said the company was “delighted” to support the project, and Transport Malta said the project was "fully aligned with the objectives and general direction of the electro mobility programme".

Transport Minister Ian Borg described the proposal as "something to think about". 

"When the time arrives for the country to change its fleet, considering such a fantastic design with the added benefit of being electric is something to look at," he said. 

The exhibition, titled Malta Bus Reborn, is supported by the Project Support Grant, Malta Arts Fund – Arts Council Malta. It will be open to the public between July and September.

Malta's iconic buses were retired in 2011.Malta's iconic buses were retired in 2011.

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