One of the many museums we visited in Prague was the Public Transport Museum. In the scheme of things, the museum is fairly “new”, only open since 1993. The museum was opened by the Prague Public Transport Company in a historic tram depot in the Prague – Střešovice neighborhood.
The depot itself was built in 1909 and was declared a technical historical landmark in 1991. It’s a pretty cool building on the inside.Can you spot the maintenance worker checking the electrical cables?
The museum also has numerous artifacts such as historical photographs, old tickets, advertising signage, blueprints, and historic films covering the history of public transit in Prague. The museum houses approximately 40 transport vehicles inside. We started with this beauty, Prague’s first tram, drawn by horses. A wagoner by the name of Jakub Chocenský was granted special concession to run two omnibus lines. This was circa 1829! This was the beginning of regular passenger transport in Prague.
Proper public transit didn’t take off until 1875 though, when the first horse-drawn tram began operating between the National Theatre and Karlín.
It wasn’t long before electricity changed the face of transportation in Prague. By 1891 the first electrical tram began operation. A surface funicular started operating that same year, using a water gravity system.
In 1897 the Electrical Utilities of the King’s City of Prague (or EU for short), not only produced electricity for the city but operated its public transportation system. By 1898 the EU had purchased a horse-drawn line and started work on the electrification process. By 1907, EU had a monopoly on Prague’s transport system.
An electric tram even crossed the Charles Bridge for a short time, between 1905-1908. But due to frequent breakdowns the line was quickly abandoned. By 1925 buses were added to the public transportation system.
Unfortunately I didn’t keep detailed notes on each tram and when they were in use, but we did take several photos:
If anyone can help out with the actual dates, I can update this post with more detailed information on each tram!
This one was a personal favourite of mine, maybe because it didn’t follow the standard red theme that most seemed to adhere to:
I particularly liked the ornamented details on many of the trams, such as these handles:
By 1942, Electrical Utilities, water and gasworks were merged under the umbrella of the Prague City Utilities. When electrical power plants became nationalized, Prague City Utilities continued on, but only overseeing the transportation component. This led to another name change in 1946: Prague Public Transport Utilities. Additional name changes followed, and their mandate was expanded to include boats, taxis, car rental services, and the underground metro lines.
Now, all of this makes it sound like Prague’s had an easy road to their current public transportation system. But that’s not entirely true. Prague has a tendency to flood. A lot. And this can wreak all sorts of havoc on their transport lines, as these photos show from 2002:
They’ve also had things like this happen to the rail lines:
After walking around the museum, we decided to end the tour with a ride on one the historic tram #91:
These trams run from April to November. The schedule can be found here: Prague Historic Tram Schedule
The tram has old wooden seats and the ride is a bit rough, so be prepared for a sore backside! But the ride is a fabulous way to see the city.