History of Public Transport System in Bratislava 1895 – 2011
The history of the public transport system in Bratislava began with the construction of municipal electric railway – one of the oldest in Europe. While in many European cities, public transportation companies operated horse-drawn railways or steam trams, Bratislava granted a concession Alexander Werner to construct the route to as early as 1893.
In 1898 the stock company P.V.V.V – “Pozsonyi villamossági részvéntyársaság“ was establishedto operate Bratislava´s municipal electric railway. Upon the entry of the Swiss company Evag Holding in 1922, the company was renamed Bratislava Electric Stock Company – Bratislavská elektrická účastinná spoločnosť (BEÚS).
Construction of the electric railway commenced in 1895 and the first tram carried its passengers on 27 August 1895. In the afternoon of that day, it brought 2,468 passengers to their destination.
In the following years, the tracks were extended and covered what are now Špitálska, Krížna, Obchodná, Račianska streets, Šafárikovo square and other areas including Gaštanový hájik and to the Vinohrady Railway Station.
A milestone in the electric traction came in 1909: on 19 July the electric line – the predecessor of the modern trolleybuses began its service to Vydrická dolina (nowadays Železná studienka).
On week-days trolleybuses provided transportation to the working population and on weekends it moved passengers to the recreation area Železná studienka.
The trolleybus line operated until 1915 when the “Vydrica trolleybus track” was closed.
A significant moment arrived with the construction of railway connecting Vienna and Bratislava. It led South from the Danube through Schwechat, Hainburg, Wolfsthal, onto the territory of Slovakia and through Petržalka district into city centre. The launch was celebrated with the first tram leaving Vienna on 4.15 pm on 5 February 1914.
When WW1 broke out,the long-distance line Bratislava – Vienna was shut down andthe number of employees of the electric railway dropped significantly. From the start, the electric railway operated vehicles of the Budapest plant GANZ. After the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic, the operator gradually started to replace them with vehicles produced locally by Studénka, BEZ – Siemens or Královopolská strojírna Brno.
On 9 May 1927 the “E” line connecting Šafárikovo square with Novomestská railway station on what is nowa days Karadžičova street carried its last passengers. A day later, it was replaced by Bratislava´s first bus line designated “M”. Its route led from the National Theatre through Grösslingova street to Novomestská station, later it was extended to the Main Railway Station. In the same year, an additional bus line was introduced.
The gradual increase of inhabitants necessitated further development of public transportation system, which now included the new Ck line from Račianskastreet to the district of KarlovaVes and an additional tram line “E” launched in 1935.
The reintroduction of trolleybuses dates back to 1941, when the “M” line was opened, replacing the eponymous bus line connecting Reduta in Palackéhostreet with the Main Railway Station, and operating MAN-Siemens vehicles. In the same year, a second trolleybus line to Patrónkawas launched. Two years later, the “H” bus line was replaced by a trolleybus line connecting Červenýkríž and Koliba districts.
A significant milestone of Bratislava public transportation system arrived in 1944 with the introduction of numbered lines. The German army destroyed trolley traction, damaged tracks and even confiscated buses. Their rampage led to the collapse of public transportation. When the war was over, the service was quickly put into operation. The Austrian authorities gradually re-established the Vienna electric line.
Until 1959, the Austrian part between Berg and Wolfsthal gradually dismantled, the Slovak part was in existence until the 1980s.
The pre-war connection with Vienna was never relaunched, but after the reconstruction of the “Old Bridge”, trams returned to Petržalka. On 28 April 1951 the tram line No. 4 on the route Petržalka – Sad – Novádoba and back was put into operation. Due to the bad technical condition of tracks on the Old Bridge, the tram line to Petržalka was discontinued on 1 April 1961.
In1948 BEÚS was nationalized and public transportation system was from then on operated by the communal entreprizeDopravnézávodymesta Bratislava (DOZAB).
After WW2, several municipalities around Bratislava were incorporated into the city of Bratislava, which led to the introduction of new bus lines including “R” to Rača, “D” to Dúbravka, Dn to Devín, “L” to Lamač and “V” to Vajnory.
The 1950s saw an increase in bus and tram transportation. In 1958, the very last two-axle tram left the plant. Two-axle trams were gradually being replaced by four-axle cars ČKD TATRA T2, produced at the ČKD plant in Prague according to the American PCC streetcar concept.
The 1960´s saw heavy construction of housing projects, while the construction of tracks to the new housing developments was neglected and often built with delay.
In the late 1960´s and early 1970s a new transportation project favouring buses was being developed. Trolleybus lines were discontinued to be operated only in hilly areas of Kramáre and Koliba.
The 1970´s saw the gradual introduction of the self-service system, launched on 1 November 1961 on bus lines. Due to the increase of population, the transport operator gradually introduced articulated buses into its fleet. On 19 February 1972, the legendary Hungarian Ikarus 280 buses first appeared on the streets of Bratislava. Originally servicing line 30 they emerged as the most reliable vehicles for the difficult conditions of Bratislava public transport and its high number of passengers.
Similarly, higher-capacity articulated trams ČKD TATRA K2 were introduced on 13 February 1972 and were in service for almost 40 years. Around this time tram service to the district of Ružinov was constructed and the popular express lines were first launched.
The following decade brought a renewed upswing oftrolleybus service and a gradual expansion of trolleybus lines. New tram lines were constructed to service Dúbravka, Rača and Jurajov dvor. In 1986 the first Škoda – Sanos S 200 Tr articulated buses appeared on the streets.
The Bratislava transport authority considered the construction of underground or rapid transit railway. The 1990s brought not only a change of the political system, but also a gradual reconstruction of the long neglected tram tracks. New trolleybus lines were being built as part of general tendency towards the ecologically-friendlier track transport.
Due to a rising number of personal cars, the number of passengers of the public transport system dropped.
2000 saw a new zoning system, introducing fares allowing changing oflines and numbering of lines according to areas.
In the following years, the share of public transport on overall transport in the city increased. Higher-quality night service was introduced and tram and trolleybus cars were being refurbished. New SOR NB 18 and Mercedes-Benz CapaCity buses were acquired.
The year 2011 brought a partial reintroduction of trolleybus service in Pražská and Brnianska streets: at the end of the year, a new line was launched connecting Pražská, Brnianska and Prokopa Veľkého streets with the Hroboňova depot, allowing for a drop in vehicle kilometres.