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Getting around on Malta and Gozo

Arriva Bus Pass

Info on buses, taxis, and other means of getting around.

Arriva Bus Pass

Postby scarletzed » Sun 21 Aug 2011 09:47 GMT

I will be in Malta next week for six months. My self and my husband both have arriva bus passes as my husband is a retired driver who worked for arriva for 46 years. We were wondering if anyone knows if we can use our passes in Malta?
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Postby gozomark » Sun 21 Aug 2011 10:19 GMT

Hi and welcome to the forum :-)

Arriva in Malta is a separate company to the one in UK, so I doubt you can use your passes, but I suggest contacting them to check

(00356) 21 22 2000.

enquiries@arriva.com.mt


as you are staying for more than 3 months you can apply for Maltese ID cards so you will be able to get the lower residents fares rather than the tourist fares
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Postby scarletzed » Sun 21 Aug 2011 10:33 GMT

Thank you. I will give them a ring. We already have ID cards so i'll apply for Maltese bus passes. Thanks
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Postby boogiewoogie » Thu 25 Aug 2011 18:46 GMT

how can you have Maltese ID cards if you are resident in UK? I'm sorry hope that doesn't sound cheeky just genuinely a bit confused.
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Postby JJ » Thu 25 Aug 2011 21:29 GMT

Like many people they may have applied while staying for anything more than a couple of weeks as they're handy for getting services (internet, mobiles etc.) and Gozo cards of course get the reduced ferry prices. On the other hand they can be a liability if, for instance, wanting to drive a UK registered vehicle.
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Postby JJ » Thu 25 Aug 2011 22:03 GMT

This is a long post so break out a Cisk/Kinnie/glass of wine before you start reading.

Not spending enough time in Gozo to justify owning a banger at prices I could haggle a new one for in the UK I've been looking forward to the new bus services since they were announced. As a Lobstercard user for many years in London I figured the 30 day season ticket (working out at about 30c/day) was the way to go as I wouldn't have to plan journeys or worry about change. If I'd known then what I know now I probably wouldn't have bothered. Here's the blow-by-blow account of getting my 30 day ticket with a few hints that may save grief for others.

The advance information talked about 30 day tickets and also Saver cards but details them on different pages in an almost contradictory manner so it was far from obvious that you needed a saver card to hold the 30 day ticket: "Discounted fares - If you hold an official Malta ID card (issued by the government of Malta) you can access discounted travel throughout Malta and Gozo. To take advantage of the fares listed below you must carry your ID card at all times when travelling." - no mention of having to have an Arriva Saver card for the 30 and 90 day tickets, and several locals that I asked were convinced that you could buy these at the terminus.

Annoyingly the website says it can take up to 15 working days to obtain a Saver card yet this information and instructions for applying weren't on the website until just a week or two before the service began.

Anyway, hoping the locals might be right I headed for the bus terminus in Victoria, but just in case I took the form that I'd downloaded from the website and a spare passport photo. At the terminus the staff confirmed that I'd need a Saver card so off I trudged to the post office.

Once I'd reached the front of the queue the man looked at the form and photo and asked for the photocopy of my ID card that was required. Now the form has a tick box for ID copy but the instructions say "Please take your completed application form to your local Malta Post, making sure you take with you your Malta ID Card, and they will then post out your Saver Card within 15 working days." so I assumed they'd make the copy for security. Obviously I wasn't the first person to make this mistake and he did direct me to the bookshop between the police station and the banks (no names, no pack-drill Kay) where they made a copy for 14c (a nice change from the UK where this would be an opportunity to rip off a person in need).

HINT: take a photocopy of your ID card as well as the ID card itself.

In just two weeks a letter arrived with a card inside. Number 1014 - was I the 1014th person out of 400,000 to get one or even the 14th? The covering letter says you can top up online but the website says "Top-up online now! (coming soon)".

Thinking I'm on the home straight now, I went into Victoria to top up the card at the machine - yet it only offered me Malta fares. I asked one of the officials who nodded knowingly and said my card had
been issued for Malta rather than Gozo (and obviously not the first) so I'd have to come back in the morning when the ticket window in their office would be open and they would sort it out. Fair enough I thought, but when I went back it turned out it the card would have to be sent away for replacement. In fact he said I'd need to get another copy of my ID card and he'd put it in an envelope and send it off with the others with the same problem. What he didn't tell me until I returned was that he expected me to provide the envelope too.

HINT: If you're a Gozo resident write 'Gozo' in large lettering on the photocopy of your ID card.

A week later on Sunday I received it back - not that there's a postal delivery on Sunday but it had been addressed to the wrong flat and the neighbour had put it into my letterbox.

Next day I again went into Victoria to top up the card at the machine. This time it offered me Gozo fares (yay!), except that none appeared to be what I wanted:

e10 Gozo w student ID card
e12.60 Gozo student with ID card

So I enquired again and was directed to the window where the man rolled his eyes, said the machine was all wrong, took my money and loaded the card. Now I finally I had the 30 day season I'd gone to all this effort for.

Next day I hopped on a bus and proudly presented my card to the reader - and a red light came on with a message saying there was no valid ticket on the card. Fortunately the driver waved me on saying that they haven't programmed the readers yet and indeed I have yet to board a bus that finds anything on my card. I could probably have just travelled on the original card without any ticket on it. Seriously though, I'd kept the receipt for the top-up so now I carry that in my wallet in case I'm challenged.

HINT: Top the card up at the window rather than the machine as you get a much more sturdy receipt and carry it with the card instead of a flimsy one that will fade or fall apart long before it expires.

I was going to stop rambling there but after about a week of this I boarded a bus where the driver told me I had the wrong sort of card because it didn't have a chip like the picture shows on the reader (doh!) and demanded to see the receipt. I emailed Arriva about this and their response two days later was to ask me to send the card back so that the could check it and if necessary reissue it. As luck would have it that day I boarded a bus and the driver squinted at the screen on the reader for a bit and declared it to be fine because he could see the expiry date of the ticket on the card. The same day two other drivers and an official at Victoria waved away my card and just asked for the receipt so the message is obviously going round the staff, but not apparently being fed back to Arriva's Saver card department to fix.

So I still don't have a card that actually works as intended but I'll report progress.

On a related note I've since spotted that they've added a sign on the ticket machine as they're having endless problems with tourists buying Gozo tickets not realising that these are only for Gozo ID card holders - not that the machine actually says this.

Personally I think all this palaver with tickets is pretty inexcusable because while staff, routes and timetables were always going to be an issue the ticket administration had none of these hurdles - and does it really take seven weeks to get readers - which were presumably purchased against a specification of handling Gozo tickets - programmed correctly.

Only in Malta as they say.
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Postby Dave » Fri 26 Aug 2011 04:44 GMT

Bloody hellfire, JJ, what a palaver! :shock: Thanks for taking the time to post, and I hope things bed down properly soon - as you say, it's ridiculous that they weren't all worked out first.
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Postby Kay » Fri 26 Aug 2011 07:07 GMT

Great posting, JJ. Thanks from me too.
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Postby boogiewoogie » Sun 28 Aug 2011 18:26 GMT

JJ wrote:Like many people they may have applied while staying for anything more than a couple of weeks .

Thanks JJ, I was having a blonde moment (must be the bleach) and couldn't get my head round that. :roll:
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Postby boogiewoogie » Sun 28 Aug 2011 18:39 GMT

blinkin' Nora JJ! that is some epic. I hope it all settles down. It isn't rocket science is it?
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Postby JJ » Sun 28 Aug 2011 20:36 GMT

Current status is that Arriva have stopped replying to my emails since I declined to return the pass for checking and asked them to please answer the questions I asked in my original email, and bus drivers are all now demanding to see the paper receipt (which many people would have thrown away and you wouldn't even have if you topped up by phone - online still being offline IYSWIM).

I wonder if I'm the only person in Gozo with an Arriva Saver card - I certainly haven't seen another (but I see locals boarding the bus every day and paying cash). I'd be interested in hearing from anyone else (in Malta or Gozo) who's got one.
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Postby stuartd1 » Mon 29 Aug 2011 06:58 GMT

Maybe you should get the receipt laminated - sounds like it's going suffer a fair bit of handling!
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Postby JJ » Mon 29 Aug 2011 07:09 GMT

I was lucky enough to have a self-seal bag from the packaging of some bit of electronics (I'm a hoarder) into which the ticket fits perfectly and then goes in a credit-card slot in my wallet. But yes, it would fall apart in days in my wallet on its own if it wasn't eaten by moths first.
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Postby InMalta » Mon 5 Sep 2011 08:47 GMT

When they give out the rewards for patience and perseverance you should be at the front of the queue..... although they'll probably ask you to nip off for a photocopy and then join the queue again.

I emailed Arriva with a couple of questions in May. I haven't received a reply yet but I am encouraged that they are spending time on a crafted and considered response.
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