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150 Years of Public Transport in Gdańsk

In 2014 we celebrate the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the launch of the first permanent and regular service to mark the beginning of public transport in Gdańsk. In 1864, the Thiel, Goldweid und Hadlich Company launched a Gdańsk to Sopot service. The route was operated by omnibuses—horse-drawn carriages that looked like stagecoaches. In this way, transport became relatively quick and inexpensive, and therefore more accessible than the stagecoaches, fiacres or cabs that used to run there before. The horse-drawn omnibuses had the drawback that they could carry relatively few passengers. And so, further solutions were sought to improve public transport. Horse-drawn trams began to appear, then electric trams, auto-omnibuses and—further down the road—motor buses.

This timeline of the most important events in the history of public transport in Gdańsk references sources including the Encyklopedia Gdańska [Gdańsk Encyclopaedia]. The text features the currently used names of streets, districts etc.

1864 – the first regular Gdańsk–Sopot service operated by horse-drawn omnibuses is launched.

1871 – the first licence to launch a tram service in Gdańsk is issued.

1872 – the first tram company is established in Gdańsk - German Horse Tram Company
              (branch of the Berlin Horse Tram Company - Deutsche Pferdeeisenbahngesellschaft).
              The construction of the horse tram line between Gdańsk and Oliwa begins.

1873 – the first tram line is opened by the German Horse Tram Company after a year of
              construction. A single track, 10 km long line with several passing tracks, running from
              what is now Targ Sienny (Hay Market), through 3 Maja and Zwycięstwa Streets, to
              Wrzeszcz and further to Oliwa. The first depot was located in Oliwa at the intersection
              of Grunwaldzka Ave. and Pomorska St.

1874 – the Wrzeszcz – Oliwa line is suspended due to unprofitability. The line was serviced by
              18 double-decker cars.

1877 – the Danziger Strasseneisenbahn (Gdańsk Trams) Company is taken over by
              Oskar Kupferschmidt und Otto Braunschweig OHG.

1878 – tram line from Gdańsk to Orunia is built (along what is now Trakt Św. Wojciecha).

1884 – the tram network is extended with lines linking Dolne Miasto (the Low Town) with the
              railway station at Brama Wyżynna (the Upland Gate). One line from Śluzy St. and
              Targ Rakowy along Łąkowa St. – Długie Ogrody – Stągiewna – Długi Targ (Long Market)
              – Długa St. to Targ Rakowy and a second line from Brama Żuławska (Żuławy Gate)
              through Długa St. to Targ Rakowy.

1886 – more tram lines are built. The one from Łąkowa St. through Toruńska St. - Żabi Kruk
              – Szeroka St. to Targ Rybny provided a direct service between the railway station in
              Toruńska St. and the passenger boat terminal on the River Motława. Another line ran
              between the district of Siedlce and the Gdańsk city centre.

1889 – a private tram line is built between the centre of Brzeźno and the Brzeźno Railway Station.
              The line operated until 1891. The tram network was 21 km long and was serviced by
              58 cars. The depots were located in the districts of Wrzeszcz (Partyzantów St.), Siedlce
              (Kartuska St.), Orunia (Gościnna St.) and in the Low Town (Kurza St.).

1896 – the Gdańsk trams are electrified by AEG. The first electric trams were purchased from
              the Herbrandt Company in Cologne, Germany. The ownership of the trams is transferred
              to the ALS Company of Berlin.

1899 – a competing tram company is founded in the district of Nowy Port – Gdańsk Electric Trams
              PLC (branch of KUMMER, Dresden). The company covered parts of Wrzeszcz, Brzeźno,
              Nowy Port, Letnica, Młynisko and part of the City Centre.

1902 – the tram line from Gdańsk to Nowy Port and further to Brzeźno is completed. Initially it
              began by Schichau Shipyard (now the Gdańsk Shipyard area) and lead along the River
              Martwa Wisła. The line was very popular from the start and was extended, first to the
              vicinity of Gnilna St., then to the Crane (via Szeroka and Korzenna Streets). The tram line
              from Brzeźno, through Gdańska and Chrobrego Streets to Waryńskiego St. is built (up to
              the railway overpass in Wrzeszcz).
              The Wrzeszcz–Oliwa tram service is launched along a route different from the suspended
              horse-drawn tram: from Szymanowskiego, Zamenhofa and Wita Stwosza Streets to Stary
              Rynek Oliwski (the Old Market in Olwa), with a loop at the Cistercian Monastery in Oliwa).

1903 – both tram companies are merged into Gdańsk Electric Trams PLC.

1908 – the Oliwa–Jelitkowo tram line is built.
              The operative length of the entire track was 41 km. The tracks were at the standardised
              gauge of 1435 mm and the vast majority of them were road surface grooved rails. Only
              ca. 9 km of the lines were operated on dedicated lanes.

1912 – work on the separate railway tracks between Gdańsk and Sopot begins, to be interrupted
              by World War I. The first so-called auto-omnibus service between Gdańsk and Stogi is
              launched. The first such vehicles were automobiles adapted to carry passengers and
              luggage and remodelled truck-chassis vehicles. The first buses could take from 16 to
              20 passengers. Initially the bus services were operated exclusively by private companies
              and played a minor role. In the 1920s and 30s they served primarily to supplement tram
              and rail transport, which handled the bulk of the passenger transport.

1914 – tram service numbers are introduced to replace the terminus signs that were used before.
             The rolling stock consisted of 104 power cars and ca. 90 trailer cars. The main providers
             of the tram cars were the German companies: Herbrandt, Cologne and Kummer, Dresden.

1920 – regular auto-omnibus services are introduced. The first auto-omnibuses played a major
              role in servicing districts on the outskirts of the city (e.g. Stogi and Krakowiec) and
              suburban lines where trams and trains did not go. Apart from the horse-drawn omnibuses,
              they were often the only mode of transport for those who did not own a vehicle.
              In 1921, the Autobus Aktiengesellschaft carried 103,659 passengers on its Stogi service
              in buses with a capacity for 42 passengers, including 32 seats.
              The bus depot in Targ Sienny (formerly Heumarkt) was the main interchange.

1921 – launch of the Gdańsk–Sopot service, operated by 10 automobiles owned by Automobil
              Omnibus-Verkehr, and the Gdańsk–Sztutowo service, operated by Gobbers und Schantz,
              Sztutowo.

1923 – the upgrade of the existing tram tracks begins, to be completed in 1924, and the overhead
              line is redeveloped.

1924 – Sopot-bound transport is enhanced by the launch of auto-omnibus services by Labbudas
              Autobetrieb.

1925 – a Gdańsk–Pruszcz Gdański bus service via Orunia is launched by Peters Autobus-Verkehr.

1926 – Aleja Zwycięstwa is redeveloped. A dedicated tram lane is introduced between two one-way
              lanes. Tram tracks are removed in 3 Maja St.
              Until 1932, bus services in Gdańsk were dominated by Danziger Verkehrsgesellschaft
              mbH (Gdańsk Transport Company Ltd.) with services between Hühnerberg (Kurza St.)
              and the Main Railway Station and a regular line to Sopot.

1927 – the double-track line from Brama Żuławska to the beach in Stogi is launched, operated by
             modern Bergmann motor cars made at the Gdańsk Railway Car Factory. They were in use
             until the 1970s.

1929 –  the Gdańsk–Nowy Port tram line is relocated from the shipyard-port area (ul. Wiślna) to
              a new thoroughfare (today’s Marynarki Polskiej St.). The two-track tram line was laid
              between two street lanes. The Wrzeszcz – Brzeźno line is extended to Nowy Port.
              The unprofitable line between Łąkowa St. through Targ Rybny (Fish Market) and the Main
              Railway Station is discontinued (it was closed for passengers as early as 1922).
              Twenty bus services operated at the time, mainly suburban and intercity lines, including
              to Pruszcz, Tczew, Sztutowo, Malbork, Kościerzyna, Kartuzy and Nowy Dwór Gdański.

1930 – A new line from the present-day location of the Baltic Opera House is partially built, running
              through Hallera and Mickiewicza streets to Legionów St. The complete new No. 5 line is
              built from Łąkowa St. through Długi Targ – Main Railway Station – Zwycięstwa – Baltic
              Opera – Hallera – Mickiewicza to Legionów St.
              The Szymanowskiego and Zamenhofa Streets line is closed down and relocated to
              al. Wojska Polskiego. The colour of the tram cars is changed from dark red to ivory.
              It remained that way until the end of World War II.

1932 – The Gdańsk – Stogi – Górki Zachodnie – Przejazdowo bus service is launched by
              Weichbrodt und Fritz Schlawjinski.

1933 – Danziger Verkehrsgesellschaft is taken over by Danziger Elektrische Straßenbahn AG
              (Gdańsk Electric Tram Public Limited Company).

1937 – the modern tram depot is completed in Wita Stwosza St., with repair shops, a multi-track
              parking and repair hall, forge and paint shop.

1939 – the old depot in Partyzantów St. is converted into garages for the buses introduced to the
              Gdańsk public transport system in 1926.
              The total length of the tram routes in Gdańsk right before World War II was over 43 km.
              It was operated by 104 power cars, 110 trailer cars and 25 special cars. The main provider
              of the tram cars was the Gdańsk Railway Car Factory.

1942 –The Gdańsk-Gdynia Transport Company (Verkehrsbetriebe Danzig-Gotenhafen AG)
             established, incorporating Gdańsk Electric Trams PLC.
             A new tram loop is developed in Oliwa across from the main entrance to Oliwski Park.
             In the 1940s, a number of bus services were established, including one to the newly-built
             shipyard workers’ estate in Chełm.
             Until 1945, busses still provided services mainly for suburban and intercity lines. Both bus
             routes and the companies that operated them changed frequently. The routes reflected
             the needs of the inhabitants of the time.

1945 – the tram system was badly damaged during the wartime operations of March 1945. Tram
             workers from Poznań, Warsaw and Łódź came to help repair the damage. By the end of 1945,
             the tram services to Wrzeszcz, Oliwa and Nowy Port were restored.
             Several irregular bus services were launched to Sopot, Gdynia and a number of distant
             neighbourhoods. These services were initially operated by over a dozen trucks with
             makeshift plywood bodies.
             The Gdańsk Executive Board establishes the Municipal Transport Company which takes over
             both tram and bus transport in Gdańsk itself and in its suburbs.

1946 – the Gdańsk–Orunia and Wrzeszcz–Nowy Port services are resumed a and new Oliwa–Sopot
             line along Grunwaldzka St. is built.
             The Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot transport companies are merged into the MZKG-G
             Gdańsk–Gdynia Inter-Commune Transport Company.

1947 – the repair of all the tram tracks damaged during World War II is completed. The tram tracks
             in Szeroka, Kowalska and Korzenna Streets are removed. Launch of tram transport to
             Siedlce and from Targ Węglowy to Legionów St.
             Badly damaged Büssing 900 n buses abandoned by the Germans are discovered in
             Sobieszewska Island.
             The repairs were made at the former depot in Partyzantów St. Two repaired and popular
             Hanomag and Mercedes truck buses, nicknamed Bajadera and Colombina by the drivers,
             began operating. They ran until 1955 between the Voivodship Office in Gdańsk (ul. Okopowa)
             and Plac Konstytucji in Gdynia. Targ Sienny (then 1-go Maja Square) again became the city’s
             Main Bus Depot.
             Buses are removed from routes where tram-operated services were introduced, e.g. Górki
             Zachodnie and Sobieszewo.
             Work resumes on the launch of a commuter railway operated by the PKP Polish State
             Railways.

1948 – the Oliwa tram loop is relocated to the junction of Grunwaldzka Ave. and Opata Rybińskiego
             St. 143 cars in operation.

1949 – 5 Leyland OPSI buses arrive, allocated by the central government.

1951 –  the first commuter rail section is launched between Gdańsk Main Railway Station and
               Nowy Port. Renamed Szybka Kolej Miejska – Rapid Urban Rail in the 1970s.
               The WPKG-G Gdańsk – Gdynia Voivodship Transport Enterprise is established.
               The first N and ND power and trailer cars made by the KONSTAL Steel Construction Factory
               in Chorzów and the SANOWAG Railway Car Plant in Sanok arrive. By 1962, a total of 64
               power cars and 65 trailer cars were delivered. This made it possible to decommission
               the trams built before 1945.

1952 – a commuter rail service is launched between Gdańsk and Gdynia, extended to Wejherowo
               in 1957.

1953 – further Leyland and Büssing buses are delivered.

1956 – the first SAN, AUTOSAN and Czechoslovakian Škoda buses are delivered to Gdańsk.

1957 – the loop at today’s Marszałka Piłsudskiego Square is closed down. A new tram loop is built
              at Abrahama St.

1959 – a widened Podwale Przedmiejskie St., Chmielna to Okopowa St. section, is commissioned,
              complete with tram tracks (known as Trasa W-Z / the W-Z Route). The tram lines in
              Długa St., Długi Targ (Long Market) and Stągiewna St are closed down. The traffic was
              redirected to a new route from Brama Wyżynna (Upland Gate) through Okopowa St.,
              Podwale Przedmiejskie (then Leningradzka Ave.) and Granary Island to Łąkowa St.
              Tram tracks are removed from Waryńskiego and Chrobrego Streets.
              The Targ Węglowy–Mickiewicza St. route is extended to the loop in Kolonia Uroda.

1960 – the Targ Węglowy–Kolonia Urody service is extended to Brzeźno, and a year later,
              to Nowy Port.
              The tram line to Sopot is closed down, having been made unprofitable by the introduction
              of the SKM Rapid Urban Rail.
              The bus lines undergo vast development. Jelcz buses are introduced. Bus services to
              Olszynka, Przymorze, Osowa and Królewska Dolina are launched.

1968 – tram tracks are reintroduced to 3 Maja St.

1969 – the first articulated KONSTAL 102N and 102Na tram cars are purchased.

1970 – the Oliwa–Jelitkowo–Sopot services (lines 117 and 143) are launched. The bus fleet
              consisted predominantly of Jelcz buses, including articulated buses.

1971 – the tram line from the city centre to Orunia is closed down.
              The tram loop is relocated from Targ Węglowy (Coal Market) to Doki St.

1974 – construction starts on a new line from the Kościuszki St. loop to Pomorska St.
              in Jelitkowo, completed in 1977.

1975 – high-speed Konstal 105N tram cars are purchased.
               A new bus loop at Jana z Kolna St. is built – closed down in 2013.
               New bus services to newly-build housing estates (Suchanino, Piecki, Morena, Orunia
               Górna, Żabianka).
               The new Gdańsk Żabianka commuter railway station between Gdańsk and Gdynia is built.

1978 – a new bus base is built in Al. Gen. Hallera. The old base in Partyzantów street is
               closed down.
               The new Gdańsk Nowe Szkoty commuter railway station between Gdańsk and
               Nowy Port is built.

1980 – the tram tracks along Kliniczna St. are commissioned, complete with a new tram loop.
               The loop at Doki St. is closed down soon after.

1989 – the Voivodship Public Transport Enterprise is split up, with the Public Transport Enterprise
               as one of the new entities.

1991 – the Public Transport Enterprise is transformed into the Zakład Komunikacji Miejskiej
               (Public Transport Company) in Gdańsk.
               In the early 1990s, a new double-track section in Podwale Przedmiejskie St., between
               Chmielna and Łąkowa Streets, is built.

1994 – the comprehensive replacement of the bus rolling stock begins. By 2008, all of the old
               run-down Jelcz buses were replaced with low-floor, air-conditioned Mercedes, Neoplans,
               Solaris Urbinos and Mans vehicles.

1995 – a new tram track is built in Podwale Przedmiejskie St. from Łąkowa St. to Brama Żuławska.
               The Nowe Ogrody St. tram line is closed down.

1999 – the tram depot in Łąkowa St. is closed down.
               The first low-floor NGd 99 trams made by ALSTOM KONSTAL Chorzów are purchased.

2000 – the SKM Rapid Urban Rail is separated from the national PKP network and transformed
               into PKP Szybka Kolej Miejska w Trójmieście Sp. z o.o. (PKP Tri-City Rapid Urban Rail Ltd.
               with the following shareholders: State Treasury 73.9%, Pomorskie Voivodship 20.9%,
               City of Gdańsk 5.2%, PKP S.A. 0.001%).

2002 – the railway line between Brzeźno and Nowy Port is closed down to passenger traffic.

2004 – Zakład Komunikacji Miejskiej (ZKM) is transformed into a limited company with the City
               of Gdańsk as its sole shareholder.
               -  the upgrade of the tram tracks begins under the Gdańsk Urban Transport Project
                  (GUTP) in Przymorze, Zaspa, Jelitkowo, Wrzeszcz, Nowy Port, Brzeźno) and Siedlce.
                  The GUTP was divided into several stages which were carried out in the years
                  that followed.

2005 – Zarząd Transportu Miejskiego w Gdańsku (City Transportation Office in Gdańsk / Gdańsk
               Public Transport Authority) is established as a budgetary unit (under Gdańsk City Council
               Resolution No. XXXV/1076/05 of 17 February 2005

2006 – ticket distribution is taken over by ZKM along with ticket sales points in Chlebnicka St.
              and Grunwaldzka St.,
              - ticket inspection tasks are taken over from ZKM. A bus and tram ticket inspection
                company is selected in a tender,
              - an electronic ticketing system is introduced, contributing to the increase in season
                ticket availability,
              - the Water Tram project is launched, aiming at natural environment protection and motor
                traffic reduction on the Hel Peninsula. It has become a popular tourist attraction, as
                it connects the Gdańsk Bay cities with the following services:

                F1 Gdańsk – Hel – Gdańsk
                F2 Sopot – Hel – Sopot
                F3 Gdańsk – Sopot - Gdańsk

2007 – Metropolitalny Związek Komunikacyjny Zatoki Gdańskiej (The Metropolitan Transport Union
              of Gdańsk Bay) is established. ZTM actively participates in its operation,
              - the metropolitan ticket becomes available,
              - a season ticket top-up service for student ID e-cards is launched,
              - a new Chełm-bound tram service (line No. 1) is launched,

2008 – the Urban Transport Chamber of Commerce Convention is held in Gdańsk,
              The F3 water tram service is closed down,
               - The Skrzydła Trójmiasta (Tri-City Wings) 2008 award goes to the Water Tram project,

2009 – the ZTM suburban transportation service is taken over by PKS and Warbus,
              - the Customer Service Point is relocated from ul. Chlebnicka to the Chełm Witosa
                tram loop,
              - the Tri-City (Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot) ticket tariff is standardised,
              - the new F4 route from Gdańsk to Sobieszewo is launched as part of the Water
                Tram project,
              - tasks covering information at stops are taken over from the operators, resulting in
                standardised stop information system (bus info boards, timetables, announcements, etc.),

2010 – the N0 summer night tram service is launched,
              - Customer Service Point No. 3 is established in the Main PKP Railway Station tunnel
                in Gdańsk,
              - the Passenger Information System is launched,
              - the Traffic Monitoring Station is established

2011 – the Large Family Card is introduced,
              - introduction of automatic ticket machines located in several dozen points throughout
                the city to sell tickets, load City Cards and pay in cash or credit card,

2012 – the Traffic Central Office is taken over from ZKM Sp. z o.o.; location: Gdańsk Wrzeszcz,
              Wyspiańskiego 9A,  
              - the Chełm tram service is extended to the loop at Łostowice Świętokrzyska,
              - Customer Service Point No. 4 is established at the Łostowice Świętokrzyska loop
                in Gdańsk,
              - Customer Service Point No. 2 is relocated from Grunwaldzka St. to Wyspiańskiego 9A
                 in Wrzeszcz,
              - efficient public transport management during the EURO 2012 tournament in Gdańsk,
              - new Water Tram services are launched: F5 Żabi Kruk–Westerplatte and F6 Targ
                Rybny–National Sailing Centre as part of the Gdańsk Water Transport Revival Programme.

              The F1, F4 and F4 Water Tram services are closed down,

               - e-tickets become available online,
               - single-use tickets become available to mobile phone users,
               - the ZTM mobile website is launched at m.ztm.gda.pl

2013 - Gdańsk public transport vehicle arrival times become available on the ZTM website,

             Customer Service Point No. 1 at the Chełm Witosa loop is closed down,

             Contribution to the new TRISTAR Integrated Traffic Management System.

2014 – up-to-date bus and tram departure times can be checked in virtual timetables on
              the ZTM mobile website.

 
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