Free ferries for Tal-Linja card users next year

Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia says free public transport will be extended to the ferry service between Valletta, Sliema and Bormla as government continues with its drive to encourage alternative modes of transport

The ferry service connects Valletta with Sliema and Bormla
The ferry service connects Valletta with Sliema and Bormla

Free public transport will be extended to the ferry service between Valletta, Sliema and Bormla next year, Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia has told MaltaToday. 

The decision forms part of government’s efforts to reduce road congestion by encouraging people to leave their car at home and use public transport instead. 

In an interview with MaltaToday, Farrugia says the ferry service will be free for Tal-Linja Card users in 2024. 

“This will encourage people to use sea transport to get around the island. It will cost money but I believe it is a wise investment,” the minister says. 

The ferry service provides a direct connection between Valletta and Bormla across the Grand Harbour and Valletta and Sliema across Marsamxett Harbour. There are plans to extend the service to Buġibba, where works on a ferry landing site were approved by the Planning Authority earlier this year. 

Farrugia says works on the Sliema ferry terminal will be completed in the first quarter of 2024. 

Free bus transport was introduced in October 2022 with the latest statistics showing that a record 6.5 million passengers were carried last October alone. 

The government will be subsidising the bus route network to the tune of €49 million next year and spend an additional €25 million to cover free travel. 

Farrugia says the investment in public transport will be complemented by a further investment of €35 million over the next five years for the creation of a dedicated cycling and pedestrian route network. 

He insists that although government’s investment in road projects will not waiver – the Msida Creek project is slated to start next year – millions more are being spent on alternative transport means to encourage a modal shift in travel.

Reclamation and Marsa Menqa 

But 2024 will also see the government present its plans for land reclamation to the Planning Authority. 

Farrugia says the projects that will be considered concern “industry uses and spaces where people can enjoy themselves” but is scant on detail. However, he does hint that a super yacht marina may be one of the projects to be considered. 

As for the possible sites where land can be reclaimed from the sea, Farrugia says two studies carried out during the Gonzi and Muscat administrations had largely honed in on the same areas, which include the sea off Xgħajra and the area at Qaliet Marku in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq. 

Farrugia adds that one of the projects the government will be working on is the regeneration of the Menqa area in Marsa to turn it into a destination for leisure activities. 

“It is a complicated area because of competing industrial and commercial uses but it is something I intend delivering on without compromising the maritime activity,” Farrugia says.