Amidst many unfortunate events happening around us on a seemingly daily basis, I think we could all use a little lesson on respect.
What is respect anyway?
Respect is a silent way to express our feelings toward someone. It is a way to show someone that they are valued. To disrespect someone is to show them that they are not valuable – to tell someone they are not worthy. Respect is a basic moral value or need, which makes us aware that we are human beings and not wild animals.
So why is it important?
Could you imagine a world without respect? Could you imagine living somewhere without manners or morals?
In some cultures it seems the mentality is that respecting others degrades yourself. Many people even believe that only certain types of people deserve to be respected – for example, only certain genders or people of certain skin colors. But this is a completely wrong way of thinking about a basic trait of human beings.
This prologue is relevant because of a situation that happened just this week. I was faced with the most extreme disrespect – worse than any other disrespect I’ve experienced in my 26 years of living.
This week I was catching a bus when I was assaulted by a bus driver and then spat on in the face. For what? For standing up for myself and my right to be on that bus.
After posting my story on Facebook, I was surprised at the reactions from the media and the public. It seemed that I was not the only one to have undergone such horrific treatment and disrespect from this company. A few days passed of people reaching out to me with stories of their own experiences – many of whom were too afraid to take matters further to the police – so I decided to step up. I’ve collected several stories over the past couple days and compiled them here. This is proof of the horror and disrespect that many people have been facing for years from Malta Public Transport.
Read on and see for yourself…
“Happened to me once as well! Unfortunately I was going to the airport and was already late so I couldn’t call the police. But the guy was following me to the departure hall and spit on my back, saying something in Maltese. And it was because I had guts to tell him to relax after he yelled at two old ladies when their suitcases fell down from the seat. One of the most disgusting and embarrassing experiences and the guy was really aggressive!”
“Once a bus driver was hooting at me because I didn’t notice the traffic lights were green. By the time I realized, the lights switched back to red. He hooted again so I turned around to him and told him ‘Calm the f*** down.’ So he HIT MY CAR with his bus and carried on laughing. They’re savages!”
“A bus driver also assaulted me once. There was only one other woman on the bus and I wanted to get off. The bus driver didn’t stop and he completely ignored my continuous requests. Then I pulled out my phone and started recording it. I approached him and asked him why he wouldn’t let me off the bus. He then stopped, locked the bus, and tried to take my phone from me, threatening to call the police. The other woman on the bus was completely freaking out. I managed to pull open the door and run away. It took me a good hour or two to calm the fuck down. I was paranoid about taking the bus for several months. Ever since, I try to avoid taking the bus as much as humanly possible.”
“I have never experienced bus drivers as rude as the ones in Malta. One of my first experiences just after moving to Malta was when I was taking a bus from Valletta to Sliema. There were only about 15 people on the bus and we passed a stop with a lot of people signaling for the bus to stop. The people waving for the bus had skin colors that were darker than the Maltese. The bus driver did not stop. I went to the front to ask the driver why he didn’t stop and he told me it was none of my business. I asked if it was because of their skin color and then he got angry, stopped the bus, and began shouting ‘GET OUT OF MY BUS YOU NIGGER LOVER!’”
“As a tourist I was astounded by how the drivers act in traffic. My friend had gone home early from the beach due to work and I was to take the long bus ride home by myself. At some sharp corner, another bus had stopped and wanted my bus to move to the side so that he could drive past us. Our driver wouldn’t have it and an intense hooting and cursing began on both sides. Then our driver stepped out of the bus banging the other bus windows. This mostly amused me because in Scandinavia it would have NEVER happened. This behavior would be totally unthinkable and would immediately lead to the driver being taken off duty and papers would write about it. In Malta, it seemed to be perfectly normal losing temper like this.”
“A similar incident happened to me on 9th April when I was waiting for a bus to Valletta in Gzira. After 40 mins of no buses, one stopped but let nobody on. I tried to convince him to let us pay and then enter from the back door (some drivers agree with that) but this one didn’t bother to compromise. I entered just the same and found about 5 empty seats! Went to swipe my Tal-linija card and sat down, however, the driver refused to move until I disembarked. Some passengers were hostile – a man tried to drag me off the bus – but I told them off. Finally, I saw another bus approaching and left. Malta Public Transport ensured me they would follow the case but I haven’t received any reply since then.”
On recent visits to Malta I’ve found bus drivers quite rude. I’m also quite upset with drivers in situations where buses are overcrowded. Standing passengers are rudely told to move up the bus to make way for others, even though there really isn’t any room. If the driving of the buses was ok this wouldn’t be too bad, however it never is and I’ve precariously had to hang on especially around corners…….I may look able bodied, however having just had cancer this has been quite a challenge for me. DON’T let the incident above be a closed book, it’s about time that drivers like this should be severely reprimanded.
“I’ve had it up to here with buses which don’t run to schedule, skipping trips and leaving passengers stranded for hours, drivers who don’t follow the advertised route, arrogant and rude drivers, a customer helpline which gets you nowhere (although the customer care girls are very polite – maybe they could teach the drivers a thing or two), air conditioners which are turned off even on the hottest of days, or when they are turned on, they drip water all over the passengers. And now CCTV cameras which don’t work. Does anyone actually MONITOR the service?”
“Some of the drivers are very rude. I was told to shut the fuck up by one rude English driver with a Manchester accent. He had a goatie. All because he had shouted at everyone to “MOVE THE FUCK BACK”, then under his breath (although everyone could hear) “YOU FUCKING ANIMALS!” So I had a go at him. I told him he can’t speak to customers like that!! He went crazy and started to abuse me verbally in front of everyone!! I’m not one to take things laying down, so I had a go back. Then I went and reported him to the inspector. The rude bus driver followed me there and denied EVERYTHING! The inspector did not care about my complaint at all. He did nothing about it!!!! WHAT A JOKE THE BUS SERVICE IS!!!!!!
“I have heard many stories from tourists, about how they didn’t want to take the bus anymore due to bus drivers shouting etc. My friend was here to visit and the bus she was on stopped, so that the driver could get out to fight with another bus driver. And I have seen screaming bus drivers myself several times. They are often very rude if you ask them a question. But unfortunately service in Malta in general is bad and way behind.”
“I was going to Valletta from Hamrun about a month ago . When we were on this bus the driver was driving very fast. Some of the passengers including myself started complaining but he didn’t care and continued driving recklessly.”
“The worst route is 222! This happened to me couple of years ago when it was still Arriva. I was coming back to Mellieha. The bus stopped at the petrol station to have a chat with the workers there. I started to film but when the driver realized this, he started shouting at me to delete the video! I filed a complaint and they answered back with an email, stating that they would investigate. Better to avoid this route.”
“My friend and I planned to go to Kiabi in Qormi and we were with two buggies. I got on the bus first but he didn’t want to take my friend because he said there was no space. I tried to explain that there was space for two buggies. There was even a sign that read MAXIMUM 2 BUGGIES. Instead, he pointed at the sign that said ONE WHEELCHAIR. I don’t think he even knew how to read. He stopped the bus and wouldn’t move until one of us got down. When we arrived to our destination, we tried to file a complaint but were told we could only file a complaint in Valletta. This is a really disgusting service.”
“I was on the number 91 from Valletta to Marsaskala and the bus was about 1/3 full. We stopped at Marsa and two gentlemen got off at the back of the bus. There were two black men at the front door waiting to get on but before they could, the driver closed the door in their faces and drove off. I repeat: the bus was almost empty! People on the bus spoke up and complained but the driver told us to F**k off. When we arrived at Marsaskala, I took a photo of the license plate and sent an email to Talinja stating the route, the time, the number plate and full details of the incident. They replied and said it would be investigated and CCTV would be checked. I chased it up a week or so later and was told that the CCTV wasn’t working but that they were still investigating. I tried to contact them multiple times since then and never received a reply or an acknowledgement to my queries. It is worth noting that this is NOT the first time I have witnessed such behaviour.”
“There are lots of rude drivers and buses that refuse to stop. Drivers let too many people on and cram them in like sardines. But the most disgusting thing that happened was a couple of weeks ago. As usual, the bus was packed and the driver was driving like a lunatic. Everyone was holding on for dear life. An African guy standing near me was talking to his friend about how bad the buses are – no room, always late, etc. Then, as he was getting off the bus, the driver turned to him and started shouting abusive racist remarks at him, telling him he should go back to his country. This is usual. Even I, myself, get told these things if I dare to moan about anything here. But with racism thrown in too; I really hate taking the buses here and the problem is always the drivers.”
“Two months ago we were on a bus in Malta. We were getting off at our stop and the driver saw my husband getting off but shut the door before I could catch up to him. He saw me following my husband but he left the doors shut and started driving. My husband and I had to meet between two stops.”
“One time the bus driver changed toutes and didn’t tell anyone. Everybody on the bus was confused and panicking. The ill manner of some bus drivers in Malta has got to change. It ruins the reputation of the beautiful island.”
“I have told drivers to stop using their phones whilst driving many times and have been sworn at and threatened. I have also had drivers refuse to follow the designated route and “cut corners” so to speak. When I confronted one about it, he marched me off the bus.”
“I have witnessed racist scenes on the bus. The drivers do not stop for black men. It’s shameful because these men are workers in Malta as well!”
“Once, I was taking a bus into St Paul’s Bay. Rather than turn into St Paul’s Bay at that roundabout, it turned onto the bypass and started driving toward Xemxija on the bypass. Confused, I jumped up and ran to the front of the bus, asking the driver why he had changed routes. He had an attitude with me and was about to drop me off on the bypass! I complained and decided it would just be best to stay on the bus until Xemxija where atleast I could catch another bus back into St Pauls Bay. He didn’t even have the courtesy to apologize for changing the route without telling any of the passengers.”
“I was on a bus in Sliema and the bus was atleast 30 minutes late. When he finally arrived, I could see there were tourists who had been waiting just as long as I had and he didn’t let them on the bus. There was PLENTY of room on the bus but the driver just shut the door in their face. As he started to drive away, I went up to him and asked him what his reasoning was for not letting the poor tourists on the bus. He just shouted rude remarks at me for five minutes in Maltese until I finally got off the bus. “
“One time I had fallen asleep on a bus from St Julian’s to Cirkewwa and meant to stop in Mellieha. I woke up when the bus had already arrived to Cirkewwa. I asked the bus driver in Maltese what time the bus would be leaving again. The driver immediately started yelling at me, “GET OFF THE BUS! GET OFF THE BUS!” I asked him POLITELY a second time in Maltese, “I’m just wondering what time the bus will leave again.” I then realized that the driver didn’t speak Maltese so I then said to him in English, “Listen I thought you spoke Maltese. You didn’t have to be so rude, I was just asking a question.” The driver continued shouting at me so I just said “Fuck you.” The driver then physically KICKED me down the stairs off the bus.”
“Once I saw a driver scream at a woman, putting his hands close to her face, saying that she didn’t pay enough after she paid the correct amount. Her husband and friends were there and they couldn’t do anything because they were in complete shock. Another time a driver stopped the bus, and asked, “Who gave me the ten euros?” And a woman replied, “Me!” He appeared to not believe her but I think he was doing this on purpose. The woman opened her wallet to show that there was no money. She was shocked and he was saying so many bad things to her. In all these bad incidents, no one was reacting. And many locals were encouraging the driver or explaining to the “victim” that he must be right. To me, that is the most shocking part. These people are so used to violence and hateful words.”
“Once an African was kind enough to let me pass before him to enter the bus and when I got on, the driver closed the door behind me and left, although there was space for him. This happens a lot – many racist incidents. So many drivers laugh at this and find it funny. “
“We might wait for an hour just to enter a bus to go to work. And the way they drive.. I can’t understand how there are no accidents. They can easily hurt people inside the bus or people in the streets. When I have a kind driver, I am so surprised. It really is sad.”
I got on a bus behind a couple of tourists. The tourists forgot to take their ticket from the machine, so I told the driver, “I think those tourists forgot their ticket.” The driver looked at me and just said, “Why don’t you mind your own business!” Disturbed, I went to the tourists and advised them to get their tickets as the inspectors could fine you for not having your ticket on the bus. They were grateful and went to get their tickets from the front.”