History of public transport

Mass public transportation first emerged in Prešporok (old name of Bratislava) in 1848, when omnibuses started to transport people between the most important places. Omnibuses made several stops along an assigned route. The establishment of many industries in boundary areas saw increases in population and expansion of the city. While the old omnibus service continued, there were ideas to build electric streetcar lines. Based on the success of electric tram in many American and European cities, Alexander Werner, Austrian engineer, designed several streetcar lines with 1000-milimeter gauge within Prešporok. The first route, Main line, began operation on 27th August 1895. In January 1898, the Line to Branch Station and Line to Newtown Station were opened. Until end of 1898 streetcars replaced all omnibuses. In 1899, Line to Tobacco Factory, the latest of first routes, was built.

In original projects, it was planned streetcar line to Iron Spring, trip place near border of Prešporok. This planned route was on 19th July 1909 replaced by new trolleybus line called Electric Car Line to Otter Valley. Trolleybuses had proved and people liked to used them. In 1915, the transport company took into consideration the high costs of trolleybus operation, its maintenance, and technical problems, and decided to close this line.

The next historically significant public transportation milestone was construction of Prešporok - Vienna Tram with 1435-milimeter gauge. Operation of this great idea started on 1st February 1914. It was electric train starting at streets of Prešporok which runned throught bridge upon the Danube, traversed Austria - Hungaria and ended in streets of Vienna. During end of First World War, this tram wasn't in service because of the bridge was barricaded. In 1918, Prešporok had renamed to Bratislava and became the capital city of Slovakia which became part of Czechoslovakia.

In 1921, Bratislava Urban Railway Co. (BMEŽ) took over Bratislava - Country Border Streetcar (Czechoslovak part of former Prešporok - Vienna Tram). During 1920's BMEŽ wasn't able to keep tracks in good condition and one of the routes had to be closed. This time was opportune for profitable bus service to connect Bratislava to communities where BMEŽ didn't plan to operate streetcars. First bus line M was estabilished on 10th May 1927. Soon, bus seemed to be good supplement to streetcar service and new and new lines became operation.

The beginning of 1930's was remarked by world's economic crisis and public urban transport stagnated. In 1935, Bratislava - Country Border Tram was rebuilt to 1000-milimeter gauge. New vehicles were build and bought but Second World War was close. In 1938, Germany had taken several parts of Bratislava such as Petržalka and Devín and streetcar and bus transport to them was stopped. A year after, Bratislava became capital city of fasist Slovak State supported by nazi Germany. Because of this fact, city was expanding and steadily develop. On 31st July 1941, Bratislava opened its trackless line M which replaced bus line. Happiness of "independent" Slovakia ended in April 1945 when German army was defeated in Bratislava by Slovak, American and Soviet forces. Soldiers damaged almost all overhead lines and stealed or damaged all buses and trolleybuses. After the war, lines were slowly reopened, the first on 3rd May 1945 and the last on 14th October 1946.

In 1946, Communist party won elections and overtake power. Czechoslovakia became part of Soviet interest and was indirectly controlled by Soviet Union. During 1950's trolleybus and bus transport was sharply expanding. In 1960's oil-fuel became cheaper and cheaper and it caused decline of trolleybus network and continuing steadily expansion of bus tranport. Only one short streetcar track was built and line to Petržalka was closed. 1970's was happier term for electric traction. Prices of oil-fuel soared and Bratislava Transport Company decided to fund new streetcar and trolleybus lines which was built during 1970's and 1980's. Growth of city was very quick so new city quarter needed also bus transport.

By this "happy socialistic building" there was one big problem called Petržalka - the city quarter with 120000 inhibitants without any streetcar or trolleybus transport. City wanted to build a new mass transportation system - subway. First projects were done in beginning of 1970's and building started in 1980's. Soon then, all work was stopped, because in agony of communist Czechoslovakia, there were no money.

After Velvet Revolution in 1989 and division of Czechoslovakia, public urban transport in Bratislava is declining. There's a need of reforms and preference of public transport instead of individual car transport. We hope there will be a year when we will be able to say "This year is for public transport better than year before".


Discover much more historical photos, other materials and information on the development maps at imhd.sk.

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Reply on: 810zssk #2:
Thank you for your reply.
At the top right corner of the page there are 3 vertical dots. Click on them and there is a drop down which includes Google Translate which I use to translate from Slovak to English.
During my first visit to Bratislava in autumn 2015 I went to the transport museum. Very interesting.
Reply on: Douglas #1:
Thanks for your nice words, the local guys do a great research and indeed we get great resources from them (which we sometimes fail to appreciate :)). I hope you had a great time and see you soon! 🙂

(Pro tip: There is much much more on the Slovak version, so I recommend that you use a Google Translation if you're interested and you'll get incredibly detail information on the history of Bratislava's public transportation :))
Since 2015, (excluding March 2020 until March 2022), I spend 2X6 weeks in Slovakia for holiday breaks. I spend at least 2 weeks in Bratislava each trip. In all I have spent 47 weeks in Slovakia. It is good that I have been able to expand my knowledge of Bratislava by reading your transport history.
The whole of your transport is really good, the transport information where I live is almost not there.
Thank you from Douglas Davie living in Bath, U.K.