Back to the Future: Senglea boosts boat services as bus transport falters
Boat owners in Senglea have launched a semi-regular harbour service using their traditional dghajjes tal-pass after people complained that the new Arriva bus service is taking far too long to reach Valletta.
The boat owners were among the first to suffer from competition when the buses were introduced a century ago.
But the promise of a six-minute boat trip to Valletta has drawn some custom back to the boats since the new route operated by Arriva takes commuters on a roundabout trip that includes Cospicua, Vittoriosa, Kalkara, Smart City, Xghajra and again to Kalkara, Vittoriosa then Marsa and Blata l-Bajda before reaching the capital.
The traditional boats pick up passengers from Senglea Wharf and drop them off near Customs House or the Siege Bell Memorial in Valletta. The trip takes all of six minutes at most.
Walter Ahar, who is helping organise the service, said that four trips are being performed in the morning, the first one at 5.30 a.m. Passengers are then picked up again in the afternoon. Each trip costs €1 per passenger and up to six passengers can be taken on each boat.
He said that the owners of these traditional boats, which used to carry Royal Navy sailors in days of yore, wanted to make the boats popular again with the locals.
He hoped that others would take the initiative to organise a mini-bus service from near Customs House to wherever their customers wanted to go in Valletta.