Brief History

The beginnings of the Prague city transport are connected with omnibuses. After the first experiment in 1830 the omnibus transport spread to a greater extent especially in the seventies of the last century, but then it gave way to the competitive horse-drawn tram. In 1872 the Count Kinský and Bernard Kollmann suggested the town should build a horse-track, but after some negotiations the licence was given to the Belgian industrialist Eduard Otlet. On the 23rd September 1875 he launched traffic on the single rail track from Karlín to the National Theatre. This track was 3.5 km long. In 1876 also the second part of the originally planned track was put into operation (Vítězná street - Smíchov). At the beginning of the eighties several more tracks were opened. The horse-tram became a popular part of the city life, but because Mr. Otlet neglected it and its economic needs grew enormously, it suffered a failure in the nineties.

In 1891 the Czech electrical engineer František Křižík presented the first experimental electric tram at the National Anniversary Exhibition. On the 19th March 1896 Křižík put an electric tram into operation from Karlín to Libeň. Very soon afterwards the track was extended to Florenc and in 1898 at the other end to Vysočany. Křižík took part also in the construction and operation of the circular tram track Main station - Vinohrady - Žižkov - Main station launched in 1897. In the same year the Košíře magistrate Matěj Hlaváček acquired the licence for the electric tram going from Smíchov to Košíře.

In 1897 the Prague city decided to take over the city transport and that's why it established the »Electric Company of the Royal Capital City of Prague«. Gradually this company took over the then existing tram routes (in 1897 the Vinohrady part of the circuit, in 1900 the Košíře track and in 1907 the Vysočany track). Also it built new tracks. In 1898 the City bought Otlet's horse-track and step by step it changed it to an electric traction. The last one changed was that on the Charles bridge, where the horse-tram was running as late as the 12th May 1905. In 1908 the tram lines got their numbers and in 1929 their count steaded at 23.

At that time also the regular bus traffic started. First experiments were made as soon as in 1908 and later again after World War I, but only the A-line started on 21st June 1925 from Čechovo náměstí to Záběhlice had a lasting character. In the years that followed the Electric Company put several bus lines more into operation. But with the arrival of the thirties the general crisis influenced also the tram- and bus traffic which resulted in the reduction of the numbers of lines and of the traffic volume. When the crisis partly receded the World War II started, so that it was necessary to reduce the traffic again. When in March 1939 the right-hand traffic rule was introduced, serious problems in the city transport occured. At the end of the thirties two trolley-bus lines were started - on the 29th August 1936 the K-line (Střešovice - Svatý Matěj) and in 1939 the W-line (Anděl - U Waltrovky).

After World War II the Prague Public Transit Company was detached from the Electric Company then running the City power engeneering system too. The marking of the bus- and trolley-bus lines was changed from alphabetical to numerical order. In the fifties the trolley-bus network expanded immensely, while the increase of the number of tram tracks was minimal. Since 1952 the Smíchov Tatra factory has begun to produce new tram cars of the T-type series, replacing gradually cars of the old type. The most significant type of this series was the T3-car produced from 1960 to 1990 in several modifications. The last old-type cars were discarded in 1974.

From the end of the fifties further lines were added to the former 23 lines to meet the growing needs. While the tram traffic was developping rapidly the trolley-buses were liquidated gradually. On the 15th October 1972 they started for the last time. The tram network couldn't cover the requirements any more and that's why it was necessary to solve the situation by building an underground. In spite of the fact that the first underground building plans originated from the twenties and thirties, the traffic on the first section (Florenc - Kačerov on the C-line) wasn't started until the 9th May 1974. Simultaneously with starting the traffic on individiual underground sections the tram tracks in the city centre were cancelled. Changes in the tram lines system ensued and the whole system was unsettled. That's why in 1985 a general reorganization of the tram lines system was elaborated, which after some minor changes and a certain stabilization process at the beginning of the nineties has been in operation up to now.

In 1974 many suburbial localities were annexed to Prague and the construction of large-scale housing estates led to the expansion of the bus traffic in the eighties. The bus lines amounting now to about 170 end usually at terminals next to some of the Metro stations. In 1993 the Regional Authority for the Prague Integrated Transport (ROPID) was established. It provides the bus transport in the Prague neighbourhood. Today there are several dozens of routes of that sort (of the numerical order of 301-399). At present the undergound construction continues and new tram track designs are being prepared (especially to Barrandov and to Bohnice).

In 1992 the Museum of the City Transport came into existence in the former Střešovice tram depot, where trams, trolley-buses and buses of various periods were brought together. Besides the vehicles exhibited, most of which are quite serviceable, also an exhibition demostrating the city transport development in Prague has been accomodated there. The Museum is open on week-ends and holidays from April to October. On summer week-ends the historical tram No. 91 starts from there (it runs on the track Vozovna Střešovice - Malostranská - Národní divadlo - Václavské náměstí - Náměstí Republiky - Výstaviště).

City Transport in Prague
Last revised on 19th September 2002