MaltaPost salutes buses of yesteryear

by Elaine Attard

Article published on 24 June 2011

 

With a new public transport service coming into effect in days, MaltaPost yesterday bid farewell to the traditional Maltese buses by issuing a commemorative set of 20 stamps depicting some of the vehicles that were in operation since the first bus was imported in Malta in 1905.

MaltaPost chairman Joseph Said told journalists that this was an unusual occasion for the Maltese postal service because they are marking the end of a historical bus service. “MaltaPost felt the moment could not be left unnoticed by the philatelic world. The new stamps, a fair amount, were created after consulting with local and foreign Maltese bus experts. We did our best to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event so that it can be enjoyed in the future,” Mr Said said.

It is exciting to see foreigners being so keen about the old Maltese buses; many groups are coming over to bid farewell to the service before it ends on 2 July.

He commended the work of artist Cedric Galea Pirotta, who was commissioned to paint in watercolours 20 of the most popular buses covering the principal routes around Malta and Gozo. Each bus was depicted in landmarks such as schools or main squares where the buses used to operate.

“Mr Galea Pirotta is humble, unpretentious and very competent. Our thanks go to him for doing such a great job. He managed to record the old buses and their environment to perfection,” he added.

Mr Said also spoke about the plans to create an industrial and transport museum which would include some of the buses that will go out of service. “These buses have contributed a lot to Malta’s history. Few know that these vehicles were military trucks before they were converted into buses. Some of the Dodge trucks were brought over when Tripoli was cleaned up after the war. The conversion process required the skills of many skilled people such as engineers or mechanics. Some of these buses were built by the workers at the drydocks for example,” he said.

The stamps will be issued on 2 July to coincide with the day when the current bus service will stop to make way for a new bus service which will be operated by Arriva Malta.

The stamps consist of two sheets, bearing the denomination of €0.20c and €0.69c respectively.

In addition to the stamp set, Malta Post produced a number of souvenirs to mark Malta’s milestone in transport history.

A set of 20 maximum cards complementing the stamps have been issued. These are a philatelic version of a postcard bearing an identical image of each stamp.

Furthermore, a set of 20 prints measuring 41cm by 33cm of the original watercolours by Mr Galea Pirotta will be issued in two sets.

To continue celebrating the occasion MaltaPost together with Buses Worldwide have reprinted the organisation’s booklet Maltese buses of yesteryear which is filled with interesting information and photos of the many buses that have served various routes over the years.

The related products are readily available from all MaltaPost branches as well as selected retail outlets. More information is available on website www.maltaphilately.com or via email on philately@maltapost.com or telephone number 2596-1740 or by post on 305, Qormi Road, Marsa MTP 1001.