One of the many museums we visited in Prague was the Public Transport Museum.
Considering the relative age of things in Prague, this museum is fairly “new”, only open since 1993. The Prague Public Transport Company opened the museum in a historic tram depot in the Prague – Střešovice neighborhood.
The tram depot itself was built in 1909. It 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. As you can see, it was a horse-drawn tram. 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. This is when the first horse-drawn tram began operating between the National Theatre and Karlín.
The advent of electricity changed the face of transportation in Prague. By 1891 the first electrical tram began operation. A surface funicular started operating that same year. It used a water gravity system to move.
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 purchased a horse-drawn line and started work on the electrification process. Consequently, 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 they quickly abandoned the line. By 1925 Prague added buses to the public transportation system.
Unfortunately I didn’t keep detailed notes on each tram or when they were each in use. But we did take several photos:
If anyone can help me out with the actual dates, I would greatly appreciate it. Then I can update this post with more detailed information on each tram!
The tram below was a personal favourite of mine. Maybe because it didn’t follow the standard red paint theme that most of the others had:
I particularly liked the ornamented details on many of the trams. Just look at these intricate handles:
By 1942, Electrical Utilities, water and gasworks merged under the umbrella of the Prague City Utilities. When electrical power plants became nationalized, Prague City Utilities continued on. But at that time, they only oversaw the transportation component. Consequently, this led to another name change in 1946: Prague Public Transport Utilities. Over time, their mandate expanded to include boats, taxis, car rental services, and the underground metro lines.
Unfortunately, Prague has had a history of frequent and intense flooding over the centuries. Some of the more drastic floods wreaked havoc on the city’s transport lines as well.
Just look at the force of nature that twisted these rail lines:
In 2002, 1.2 million m3 of water from the Vltava River flooded Prague, including their Metro network. The city had flood control measures in place, but they weren’t sufficient for this volume of water:
19.6 km of underground metro lines flooded, including 18 stations. It took 50 days to pump the water out. But the Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) used the disaster as an opportunity to develop better flood protection.
After walking around the museum, we decided to end the tour with a ride on the historic tram #91:
These trams run from April to November. You can find the schedule here: Prague Historic Tram Schedule
The tram has old wooden seats and no cushions, so the ride is a bit rough. Just be prepared for a sore backside! But taking this historic tram is a fabulous way to see the city.
Address: Patočkova 4, 162 00 Praha 6, Czechia
Hours of Operation:
Saturday and Sunday: 9a.m.–5p.m.
Monday to Friday: Closed
Basic admission: 50 CZK
Reduced admission: 30 CZK