SOMETHING TYPICAL IN MALTA: TRAFFIC JAM!
Although Malta is an extremely small country that has about 500,000 inhabitants, the traffic is unsustainable and absurd for the real size of the island. The roads, in fact, do not have the suitable dimensions to support the increasing number of vehicles and the increasingly generous dimensions of modern cars. Moving even for short distances often requires a disproportionate amount of time due to traffic, traffic jams and one-way labyrinthine. Nonetheless, the country is also equipped with short stretches of highway where traffic becomes smoother; but in fact the huge number of cars on the ground in Malta remains to be the real problem. The country seems, in fact, to depend excessively on the car, with the consequence of creating chaotic attention. Even the air you breathe is very heavy, and with the humidity present the situation only worsens what you imagine.
The actual timings present excessive in relation to the distance to be covered. In fact, to better imagine the concept, it is necessary to imagine Malta as a big city, where to move you need to venture into traffic and get cold-blooded. Moreover, near Valletta there is the largest road link in the country, whose view is impressive. For a non-superficial eye it is surprising to see how all those lanes and cars are on the ground of a small island in fact so small. Only when you decide to leave the urbanized area to venture into the wild and rural south does the situation calm down and the roads open inexorably to desertification. I really think that the unnerving traffic and the long deadlines somehow help the Maltese to perceive the country much larger than its real size, and this can only help. It is not uncommon to have a sense of suffocation for those who live here long.
To conclude the automobile issue, it is interesting to know that Maltese and safe driving do not get along well. Most Maltese literally drive like crazy, without ifs and buts!
If you do not want to opt for the car but to go on foot, by bicycle or by bus, the situation does not improve at all, and this is precisely why the car is the most popular vehicle. First of all, I've been living here in Malta for three months now, and the total number of bicycles I've seen is around a few and not more. Cycling around Malta is very dangerous, as the attitude of the Maltese to driving is very unwise. As for pedestrians, however, we find ourselves walking almost constantly on very narrow pavements where we risk being hit by the mirrors of the cars. When it is not the cars, it is the people themselves who are stressful, because even the people are too many in relation to the size of the sidewalks. If you go to Sliema and walk the promenade in the sun, a walk turns into a sweaty and exhausting slalom between all the passers-by who come from the opposite direction. The pedestrian crossings, then, are very few. I have had experiences in which I even had to cross motorway sections because there were no pedestrian crossings.
At this point one could think of public means of transport, but the latter lack efficiency. First of all, some routes only see buses that are extremely crowded, where it is not strange that you can't even get on the bus. In addition, the buses are often very late and are sometimes canceled unexpectedly and without notice.
The number of buses and their frequency should increase to allow for better movement of people. For the rest, the whole country is well connected and you can reach any area simply by bus.
The residents have a magnetic card, the Tallinja, which must be bipped every time you get on the vehicle. Money is loaded onto the card which is deducted for each run you make.
The Maltese complain a lot about the bus situation, but personally I expected much worse. In the end, the buses are all in good condition and there is even free wifi on board.
There is also a really positive side here in Malta with regards to travel, that is taxi services. There are countless services that allow you to call a car or minivan using your smartphone and the prices are more than acceptable. In any area of Malta you find yourself and in case of any eventuality, you can always count on Bolt, eCabs, TaxiGo and other similar services. Once I took the wrong bus back from Popeye village. I found myself in a very small village almost completely uninhabited, alone and with 4% battery in my phone. My salvation was to be able to call Bolt and go home. Furthermore, in the absence of public transport and having to travel long distances, services such as Bolt or eCabs are much more than appreciated, especially if you share the ride with other people.
Young, motivated and eager to find out what there is in Europe for them. Ilaria, Thomas, Valentin and Elisa have been selected for #ErasmusPro, the new Erasmus designed to promote "long-term" vocational training experiences. Thanks to the APRO Formazione project "WAVES - Sail towards your future", Ilaria, Thomas, Valentin and Elisa are doing their #ErasmusPro in Malta for 6 months, from October 2019 to the beginning of April 2020. Each week, in turn, they will send us their impressions.