When it comes to implementing political decisions, it can sometimes take longer in Malta and Gozo. In most cases it comes late, but it is implemented: Since June 1, 2021, there has been a high-speed connection between the capital Valletta and Mgarr on the island of Gozo.
Valletta attracts many tourists every year, but there is also a lot to discover on the island of Gozo. In terms of culture, for example, in the capital Victoria and in terms of leisure, there are some beautiful sandy beaches. Getting to and from Gozo has so far been extremely time-consuming for holidaymakers, as the public bus takes up to 1,5 hours from Luqa Airport or Valletta - depending on the traffic situation. Afterwards with the ship of the Gozo Channel Line and from Mgarr then further with the bus or taxi. In short: Unless you happen to live in Mellieħa or Ċirkewwa, valuable vacation time is wasted just on the way to the Gozo Channel Line.
Gozo residents who work on the main island of Malta can tell you a thing or two about it, because they have this proverbial “ox tour” every working day. The same applies to students and pupils in certain subjects. The new high-speed ferry is intended to make traveling between the capital Valletta and the island of Gozo easier for both commuters and tourists.
The new line will be served with high frequency by catamaran passenger ferries that travel at an average of 35 knots. There is an airplane feeling on board, because the seats are reminiscent of airplanes. It is a matter of pure passenger transport, because there is no space for cars on the high-speed ferries. The journey time is around 45 minutes, which is significantly faster than before with the Channel Line and then continuing by land.
The government tried for many years to find operators for the line, but failed with the project. Sometimes no bids were submitted, then the tender was incorrect, but now it got really strange: It was expected that Transport Malta would award the contract to an applicant, but it was not. Two shipping companies receive so-called PSO subsidies for the operation of the high-speed ferry between Valletta and Mgarr.
Two shipping companies that do not recognize each other's tickets
The implementation is suboptimal for both locals and tourists, because the tickets of the two ferry companies are not mutually recognized despite subsidies from the state. So that customers don't get the idea of using the Virtu ferry for the outward journey and the Gozo Fast Ferry for the return journey (or vice versa), normal tickets are only sold as a return. It goes without saying that the two companies have different prices for the same service. Gozo Fast Ferry sells the tickets in the app and on the Internet cheaper than at the counter. In many, but not all cases, Virtu Ferry is cheaper.
Fixed prices are available for Tallinja bus ticket holders. They do not need a separate ticket, but can simply have their ticket scanned and the price will be deducted from the credit. It depends on which personalized Tallinja Card you have, because Gozo residents, for example, only pay 4,50 euros for the return. But if you consider that you have to pay this amount every day to get to work and back home, that adds up to a handsome sum over the month.
Although the new high-speed ferry is also explicitly intended for tourists, they cannot do anything with their Tallinja tourist cards. These are not valid with either ferry company, because only the personalized Tallinja prepaid cards can be used. By the way, anyone can buy the standard Tallinja prepaid card. This can be worthwhile for a one-week holiday, because bus trips of up to two hours then only cost 75 cents on Malta and Gozo.
Channel Line is cheaper
The Gozo Channel Line, which also carries cars and trucks, operates 4,65/XNUMX between Ċirkewwa (Malta) and Mġarr (Gozo). Three of its own ships and another one operated by a Greek shipping company under a wet lease contract are in use. The return fare for pedestrians is XNUMX euros and must only be paid on the return journey at the M beiarr ticket counter. There is no ticket sales in Ċirkewwa. Many tourists are not aware that the Gozo Channel Line is a kind of toll road on the water and therefore you do not have to reserve anything. There is also no ticket sales in irkewwa, just get on board and pay at the counter in Terminal Mġarr on the return journey.
It remains to be seen whether the Gozo Channel Line will maintain this practice. Sparefrohs could use the Channel Line for the outward journey and the new high-speed ferries to Valletta for the return journey. This would save you the ticket price for the Channel Line, as it only collects on the return journey. On the other hand, money is thrown out the window, since the two companies that operate the fast ferries only offer their normal tickets as return tickets. When you have a personalized Tallinja Card, the world looks different, of course. Tip: Both operators of the fast ferries offer “Open Tickets” for the return journey at no extra charge. With these you can then use each ship by the respective shipping company. By the way: The Gozo Channel Line does not recognize any Tallinja cards, neither the personalized ones nor those for tourists.