The Malta Bus Cooperative was founded in 2011 after the public bus transport recession in Malta, when the drivers were forced to take their buses off the streets and came up with the idea of establishing a cooperative.
Eventually, 20 bus owners joined forces and established a worker cooperative. It was a lengthy and thorough process, since all buses needed to be refurbished in a very specific way, plus they had to go into a concession process to go back on the road.
The fleet from Malta Bus Coop was painted in 60’s-70’s eras colors, which add to the street nostalgia and help Maltese people remember how they used to look back in the day. The buses were refurbished by hand; the reason being that only a handful of manufacturers can work on these masterpieces and transform them into service-ready vehicles prepared to hit the road in excellent conditions.
“We made it against all odds, and no matter how old they get, they will still be our unique masterpieces originated from Malta to the Maltese and to the foreigners. The buses' refurbishment was all paid from the owners' pockets and they had to pay for the concession as well to be back on the road. Trust that we never end!” says Natalie Cardona, Executive Administrator.
The Malta Bus Coop offers all kinds of transportation to locals and tourists alike. They offer tours around the island in traditional buses with audio guides, group transports for special occasions, airport transfers, private events, and even wedding transports.
The main principle of organizing tours is to keep the history alive. The tourism industry in Malta is an important asset in the nation’s economic activity, so the Bus Coop has taken to the task to offer innovative services with exceptional hospitality practices. For example, a wedding party could have a photoshoot, and either be transported to the party venue or have a party on board! And all while doing it in a transport that has nearly zero emissions (the buses are rated Euro 5+). This combines innovation, service, and caring for the planet all at once.
Currently, Malta Bus Coop consists of 19 worker members and 1 employee. Proud of promoting a truly Maltese gem, its members privilege the cooperative form because it allows them to work together through teamwork and in a more organized way. The members meet every fortnight, and the daily activities are handled by the President, the Executive Administrator, and her assistant. As for the workers day-to-day jobs, they deal with agents, and other business stakeholders, and organize a roster to rotate work.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the coop saw a decrease in activities. However, during normal times, they would do daily tours, and offer pre booked services for all of those who want it. As Natalie explains it, the “fireworks tour” is the most appreciated, being a summer tour where they drive to the best Maltese village feast of the week, for the spectacular showcases of pyrotechnics in local villages. It sure will be a spectacle not to miss in the next summers to come.
The Malta Bus Cooperative is affiliated to Koperattivi Malta, a member of CECOP since the 1990s.