I was riding in a tram the other evening when I saw on a screen pictures of trams in Prague during the early 20th century until today. It is partly for this reason that I am interested in public transport in the city and how it has evolved.
That’s almost 140 years since the city of Prague has had the tram system. The first tram appeared in 1875, but it was horse-drawn – it is a kind of rail carriage pulled by horses.
The first electric was introduced at the Prague exhibition in 1891 by inventor František Křižík. However, the electric tram was not immediately imposed, there were many alternatives to the electric tram before its implementation such as steam and gas pedal trams.
The municipality of Prague in the late 19th century decided that the electric tram would be the next evolution in the tram system. In 1898, the construction of a subway was already planned, but the project will be postponed several times. In 1907 the city became the owner of all tram lines. The electricity trams required the proper speed, modernity, and cleanliness of the locomotives.
The development of public transport goes back to the electric tramway competition. Indeed, the appearance of the bus did not need rails or any infrastructure besides roads had a very important influence on the development of public transport. There was also the trolleybus which was a compromise between the tram and the bus. It functioned as the electric trams but did not need rails. The city of Prague completed the network of public transport with buses and trolleybuses in 1925.
However, the tramway system in Prague was one of the most developed in the early 20th century. The network was different and more advanced. There were rails in all directions, some tram lines passed through the historic center, the place of the Old Square but also directly on the Charles Bridge. (In this period Charles Bridge was not open to the public.)
Regardless of the phenomenon of the car, the tram continued to evolve, but saw a decrease in infrastructure and rails. The tram lines remain in the same location and trams are identical, and both areas are some who are complete metamorphosis and changing faster than transportation.
In the 1950s, there was a dramatic increase in tramlines as well as in automobiles which resulted in large traffic jams.
Today the Prague tramway consists of 141km of track, 26 lines during the day, and 9 night lines.
If you want to learn more about the evolution of trams, look books Pavek Fojtik putting all photos and highlight changing trams in Prague.
One of the most famous trams running is the T-3. It is manufactured by the Czech company CKD. It was sold in many countries, and we must admit lines of this tram has a certain charm. Created in the 1970s but still flowing in the streets of Prague.
The Prague metro finished construction in 1974. It has three lines A, B, and C which are recognized by their colors, red, yellow and green. The construction of a Prague subway was mentioned for the first time in 1898, as the city was building the main drainage system. The construction of a subway tunnel could be done for a moderate cost. At this time, only London and Budapest had a subway. But ultimately, all finished in the sewer, therefore subway construction was dropped.
In 1918 with Czechoslovakia foundation, the creation of new subway is decided for Prague. In 1926, an engineer Jiri Hrusa presents a subway project with a design similar to the one now established in Prague. But this is a project that was also the feature to optimize the entry and exit of travelers with a dock and a door to make entry easy and accessible, and another door with another platform to get them out. This ingenious idea is now known as the “Spanish solution”.
In the 1930s, several projects and several bids were submitted. The was much emphasis put on the traffic problems caused by cars. However, none of the bids were selected. All project bids were similar to the Berlin subway which have an underground and aerial part. Subsequently WWII and the Prague Coup in 1948 delayed construction projects subway.
Then in the 1960s with automobile traffic so important, and trams were increasingly stuck in traffic the necessity for a subway was obvious. But the project is still uncertain, it planned to build only one underground line and the two others are above ground. The big problem in the metro area could really be dangerous, with a speed much faster than a tram. In 1967 that the city of Prague decided that the metro is should only be underground.
Work began when Czechoslovakia signed a treaty of cooperation with the Soviet Union for the construction. Prague is an ideal city to open a metro. Streets were broken and even Wenceslas Square was often closed to traffic and pedestrians. At the time there was little knowledge in tunnel construction, this is why the C line is shallow unlike other lines that had been excavated with tunneling.
C-line was inaugurated in 1974 with a length of 6.6 km that connects Florenc Kacerov. The line was further extended in the 1980s and the 2000s. Today the line is 22.4 km.
The second metro line was the A inaugurated in 1978.
B-Line was opened from 1985, which can reach either line A or line C. This is the longest of all subway lines.
Flood of 2002:
In August 2002, the flood of the Vltava reached the subway. However, the metro has a security system that prevents pressurized water from entering. But the subway was flooded in two places, and the water spread throughout the network.
This flood created an exceptional situation – the subway lines that reached downtown were down. The Prague authorities acted quickly and the network of trams and buses were strengthened during this period. All lines were working normally again in March 2003. This flood cost 6.9 billion Czech crowns.
My opinion on the public transport
Having lived previously in Brno and now in Prague, I can say that the Czech public transport in cities is generally well developed and well serve the cities. In Brno you can still find the trolleybus network also works very well at night.
Prague, in my opinion, is in the same direction. The more I do not know much about the city or tram ticket that you purchase is valid for metro and bus. In addition, if you want to use public transport when you decide to make a weekend in Prague, you can buy a pass for 1, 2 or 3 days.
The metro runs from 5am until midnight. There are fewer night tram lines, 9 in all that is adequate, and if you get lost just go to Lazarska, in order to have one. Some regular lines start running again at 4:30 a.m.
I also appreciate the cleanliness of Czech transport, compared to many transportation in other countries that I have experienced, Pragues are really clean. If you take the subway, there is no funky smell, little or no graffiti, and the subway is very open, you do not have a porch like in Paris.
Finally when you look at the red streetcars, they are part of the scenery and a charming characteristic of Prague.
A little advice for those who like trams. From late March to November in Prague, you can take the tram line 91. You take a historic tram through the major stations. I find the idea interesting, it’s a bit like taking the Cable-Car in San Francisco :)