History of Urban Transport in Coimbra

Beginning, from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th Century

First phase, when Evaristo Nunes Pinto and Camilo Mongeon, concessionaires of the American railroad, from the railway station of the North to Coimbra, require, in February of the year of 1873 that the cars pass through the streets of the city, presenting for the effect plant of the project, start the development of the history of urban transport in Coimbra.

The council's decision was swift and came on Feb. 20. Nevertheless the subsequent development of the process dragged and only to 17 of September of 1874 the company in the meantime created, Rail Road Conimbricense, communicates to the municipality the opening to the exploration of the line, whose route went from Calçada to the station of the railway From north.

However, the Rail Road Conimbricense did not find an easy path and the request of authorization presented in 1885, to extend its line of the Toll to the Cais das Ameias, the present New Station, as well as a request to reduce the prices of the tickets , ended in a failed attempt to counter the stronger competition from the start of the railway branch to the City Center.

A second phase, began on October 30, 1902, when Augusto Eduardo Freire de Andrade asked for the concession of a single-story line, an American system, on the streets of the City, for traction. This process, however, was only to be carried out by the Coimbra Railroad Company, which was created on January 1, 1904, with the "establishment of the connection of the current Coimbra-B station with Largo da Portagem, which was followed in February 4 of the same year the opening of a new section between Praça 8 de Maio and Rua Infante D. Augusto ", next to the University.

However, very soon this last section was not operational and the latest news about American cars appeared on May 29, 1908, when the Coimbra City Council became aware of the suspension of careers for Coimbra-B station, following the decision of municipalisation of electric traction.

Also, the 3 of February of 1916, the municipality recognizing thattransporting courier bags for overnight trains to be made in the old American car, pulled into mules, authorizes the transportation also to passengers.

Also during this period it is important to highlight the ephemeral existence of the first bus race in Portugal, the career that linked the upper and lower cities, an initiative of the Tavares de Mello Coimbra Automobile Company, which used cars for this purpose. 4 cylinders with the force of 4 horses and carried 20 people


The Installation of Electric Traction At the close of the 20th Century

The first news about the creation of an electric traction system in Coimbra dates from December 1, 1904 when the Chamber decides in principle in the granting of a subsidy to the Company of the Railroads (concessionaire of American cars) for the replacement of animal traction by the electric.

However, the decision that gave rise to the effective realization of this improvement was taken on May 15, 1908, when the municipality had reached the conclusion that "all the illusions regarding the possibility of the electric installation in the City have disappeared through the Companhia de Carris de Ferro de Coimbra, "decided for the municipalization of the electric traction service and for the contraction of" a loan of 150,000 $ 00 kings. "

The traction installation was awarded to the firm Thomson Houston - Iberian,  on September 23, 1909, and its inauguration took place on January 1, 1911, and was widely reported in the press that reported it as ...the most remarkable event in Coimbra's life...

The installation of the electric traction of Coimbra that today was inaugurated is worthy of special mention not only for the technical perfection with which it is executed, but also especially since it was set up as a municipal service in charge of the Municipal Council of Coimbra. It comprises three lines: one from Estação Velha to Alegria, one from Estação Nova to Cidade Alta and the third from Estação Nova to Santo António dos Olivais.

The installation of the Coimbra electric road was, at the time, a modeling installation from all points of view, attested by the names of the different constructors of the parts of the installation: AEG, General Electri, Company; Babcock Wilcox; Beilis & Marcon; Tudor; Brill Cor Company, etc.

The track was proven to be solid and strong, and was laid with the greatest care, according to the system used in Lisbon, with rails of 42 kilos per meter and eclisses Cantinou Joint of eight bolts, being considered a true model of execution, such as the airlines, in which the material was used Cap Cone gives General Electric Company.

The fleet consisted of five electric cars, and in August 1911 it was authorized to purchase two more cars, which proves that the city was in full development and the existing cars no longer satisfied the population that spread by new spaces and that has already acquired habit of moving of electric in its day to day.

The five cars whose electric equipment are of the same origin, carrosseries and trucks they left JC's well-known workshops, Brill, of Philadelphia, were very elegant and comfortable. Their appearance, especially when they were illuminated at night by the streets of Coimbra, was admirable.

Also in the same year, on September 21, it was decided to acquire two electric cars, the numbers 6 and 7, at the same firm.

The following year it was decided to expand the network to Calhabé, a section that began in Alegria and was inaugurated on May 24, 1913.


Decades of Twenty-thirty apogee DoS ELECTRIC CARS

On April 22, 1920, the City Council decided on the autonomy of the Municipal Services and an Administrative Commission was created for this purpose.

In 1925 an electric car and a dolly were used to transport the coal, used in the power station, with the balances of the exploration that took place from 1923.

At this point the SMC fleet was already made up of fifteen electric cars and two cars to tow a fox.

At the end of the decade of the 1920s, the introduction of the electric traction system in Coimbra was a reality, as a result of having been surpassed, for the first time in a period of one year (1929-1930), the number of three million tickets sold to corresponded to a revenue of $ 1,907,331.

This period, which corresponded to the peak of electric cars in Coimbra, program for the years 1926 to 1298, for which a loan of 6,000 contos was contracted, which allowed, in particular, the ordering of the material for the installation of eight kilometers of new electric traction lines, including the duplication of the road from Visconde da Luz Street to Arcos do Jardim, a mercury converter group for the Central Electricity service; 5 open and two closed engine cars, the latter being the "all-steel" type of JGBrilL .. ")

A short time elapsed, still within this period, the following acquisitions were made:

  • In 1930, the only three electric cars manufactured in Europe, purchased in Famillereux, Belgium.
  • In 1934, electric car No. 19, built in the workshops of the Municipal Services, from a chassis and imported engines.

With regard to the expansion of the network in the period of greatest height of electric cars, the following improvements were made:

  • Installation of double line from the Arc of Almedina to Arcos do Jardim - 1928.
  • Opening of the line up to the Matadouro area of the current Church of Our Lady of Lourdes - 1928.
  • Opening of the Arcos do Jardim - Calhabé line, which allowed the circulation of the trolleybuses by S. José - 1929, for a long period of time.
  • Opening of the line Cumeada - Olivais, - 1929.
  • The extension of the line of the Olive groves to the Church of St. António - 1932.
  • The construction of the Abílio Roque Street line - 1932.
  • The extension of the dual carriageway until the University - 1932.
  • Construction of the line in Rua de São João that allowed the circulation by the University - 1934.

At this time the electric car is definitely installed in Coimbra serving the areas in the most populous of the city.


Mid 20th Century - DECLINE OF THE USE OF ELECTRIC CARS emergence of the first trolleybuses

When the Report referring to the year 1938 states that it is also less and less important to advise that it be done by the system of electric cars on rails, was beginning the cycle that led to the abandonment of the use of electric cars in Coimbra.

The intended alternative is referred to for the first time in 1943 when it is decided that: In the new extensions of the urban transport network to establish when there is opportunity - Santa Clara, Calhabé and Bairro do Loreto - should adopt the trolley bus system instead of railroad.

This project began in 1946, with the start of the assembly of the airline to Santa Clara, line no. 6, Estação Nova - Santa Clara (Almas de Freire), which was to be inaugurated on August 16, 1947, as described in the local press:

Thanks to the initiative of the Municipal Services of the City of Coimbra, Portugal is being equipped with a first line of trolleybus. To experience this new mode of transportation, the Municipal Services chose a small line, 2.5 km long.

... the ordering of the two cars was given to the SA case of the Ateliers de Sécheron in Geneva, Switzerland, as general contractor and supplier of the electrical part, and SA Adalphe Saurer, Arbon house. Switzerland as the supplier of the chassis and bodywork. implementation of the contact line was entrusted to Casa Kummler & Motter, Zurich ...

It is important to point out that the high technical capacity reached by the workshops of the Municipal Services enabled the construction of the last electric car in 1940: electric car No. 20, resulting from the transformation of the dolly acquired in the 1920s.

It should also be noted that, as late as 1940, the works were carried out to satisfy the conclusion that three lines were close to each other, as were those of Cumeada, Olivais and Montes Claros, it would be useful ... the connection of these lines.

This period was also marked by the use of buses by the Municipal Services. We were entering the bus season, which together with the troleycarros, inaugurated for the first time in the country in 1947, will be the future alternatives for transport in Coimbra.

The first career was between Coimbra and Taveiro, with departure from the market, for which were acquired, in 1938, three cars, a branded bus MACK and two of the brand Daimler.

Subsequently, in 1947, a new career was created, starting from the same location, reinforcing the electric lines for the Olivais.

The early 1950s are characterized by a decline in the use of electric cars. The first case was verified in April 1954, line no. 5 - São José. In the same year, the substitution is made by buses, but in line no. 2 - Estação Velha.

By December 1947 the House had announced the gradual extinction of electric cars and their replacement by trolleybuses, in the urban area, and buses in the countryside. Although the trolleybus movement was growing in the streets of the city, it did not completely annul the circulation of the electric ones.

It was in this period, more concretely in the year 1954, that there were significant changes in the lines of electric cars, namely:

  • Inauguration of the career for Tovim;
  • Assembly of the line in Rua Dr. Manuel Rodrigues, Av. Fernão de Magalhães and Largo das Ameias, allowing the circulation of the Baixa.

In 1952, for the first time, the barrier of 10 million tickets sold was surpassed in the course of a year.

Considering the acquisition of six trolleybuses in 1949; the order of three more in 1953 who entered the service the following year; in 1956 the acquisition of four trolleybuses and a bus; in 1957 the acquisition of four chassis for trolleybuses, which were wagged in the "Leyland-BUT" Municipalized Services workshops, entered the service the following year and one more bus; the future for the urban transport system of Coimbra was already outlined, as is evident from the acquisitions made.

In 1959, the urban transport system of Coimbra consisted of the following careers, which used the types of vehicles they refer to:

1 - Museum with electric
1 - Penedo da Saudade ""
3 - Cumeada - Olivais ""
4 - Cross of Cells ""
7 - Tovim with electric
8 - Santo António ""
5 - S. José - Av. Fernão Magalhães with trolleybuses
5 - S. José - Square 8 of May ""
5 - Toll Road - Stadium ""
5 Praça do República - Liceu ""
6 - Tolls - Almas de Freire ""
Coimbra - Taveiro with buses
Old Station - Loreto ""

In the course of 1959, the career 1 - University for 1 - Penedo da Saudade took place, and the merger of the 3 - Cumeada - Olivais and 3 - Celas - Olivais careers, as well as the creation of the 8 - Santo António career.



The Municipal Services of Coimbra, in the early 1970s, referred to the electric car as the type of transport that progress is becoming obsolete and whose elimination of the city streets many strive for - and that entails less damage because it is what requires less expense in maintenance and conservation.

This understanding, a sequence of previous decisions, conditioned the development of the collective transportation network of Coimbra.

In reality, since the network, in the urban area, acquired the dimensions appropriate to the size of the City, from the end of the 1960s onwards it was extended to suburban areas and even to the rural area.

This enlargement, essentially carried out with buses, has led to a rapid increase in the number of passengers transported. Thus, in 1963 the number of 15 million was exceeded, as early as 1967 the system was carrying more than 20 million passengers for the first time in a year.

In 1959 it was verified the opening of line no. 5, Portagem - Estádio Municipal; and line no. 5, Republic Square - Liceu, which later became line no. 9; in 1960 the opening of line no. 5, Square 8 de Maio - Apeadeiro de S. José, which later became line no. 10.

In 1962, line no. 1, Portagem - Universidade via Abílio Roque was opened; and line no. 6T, University - Almas de Freire.

The year 1964 is marked by the fact that, for the first time, trolleybuses are the means of collective transportation to carry more people in the city of Coimbra.

In 1969, there were twenty electric cars, twenty-seven trolley cars and thirty-one buses in the Municipal Services fleet. This period, with respect to the fleet used, is characterized by the successive slaughtering of electric cars and the rapid increase in the number of trolleybuses and buses available.

In 1970 was inaugurated the opening of line no. 8, Portagem - S. António dos Olivais, Rua Lourenço Almeida Azevedo and Largo de Celas.

Later, in 1972, the remise of the trolleybuses of stop of Joy for the new premises of the English Guard.

The year of 1976 marks a turning point, as buses become the most popular means of transportation in Coimbra.

When, at dawn on January 9, 1980, near one o'clock in the morning, the electric cars were last collected at the premises, located at Alegria Street, no longer circulating in the city of Coimbra, the Municipal Services fleet was constituted by twelve electric cars, twenty-seven trolleybuses and seventy buses.

The opening of line no. 3, Portagem - Santo António dos Olivais, via Penedo da Saudade comes to light in 1982.

After two years, in 1984, new trolleybuses of the Caetano-Efacec; together with the opening of line no. 4, Portagem - Celas.


Separation of Municipal Services - Beginning of a new era

On November 26, 1984, due to the size of the Municipal Services of Coimbra, the executive approved its separation into two Services: Collective Transport and Water and Sanitation, approving the respective personnel tables, in order to be able to implement the separation, which came to fruition from the day January 1, 1985.

The Municipal Services Urban Transport of Coimbra, commonly referred to as the SMTUC, whose Board of Directors was made up of the Chairman, Mr. Fernando Luís Mendes Silva, and their respective Members, Mr. Manuel Correia de Oliveira and Mr. Carlos Gomes de Andrade, and Mr. Leopoldo Morais da Cunha Matos as its First Delegate.

In 1988 the line No. 46, Santa Clara - Portagem - Celas, was opened with circulation by Av. Fernão de Magalhães, three years later in 1991 lines 7 and 7T were opened , Station - Tovim, made by trolleybuses.

In 1993, with the maximum extension of the trolleybus network of Coimbra to be around 42 kilometers of airlines, in operation; the network will begin to decline, with the replacement of these by buses, in the lines: No. 7; and 46. In 1995, trolleybuses are replaced by buses on line 5.

During the year 1997, the first Park & Ride Service in Portugal, pioneer in Portugal, initially only with dedicated service of connection between the Park of the Heroes of the Ultramar Square, the University, Nascent area, and the center of the City. Thus emerged the Ecovia Service, original in the country, in 1998 the Ecovia Service also extends to the area of Casa do Sal.

Essentially due to operational issues and convenience of service, the Municipal Transportation Services of Coimbra ponder the end of the operation with trolleybuses in 1998, so in 1999, trolleybuses by buses in line 7 are definitely replaced.

The year 2000 is marked by the introduction in SMTUC of the first card ticketing system without contact, implemented in Portugal in public road transport.

In 2001, the Municipal Executive opted for the maintenance of the trolleybus network, with a reduced number of units and careers, namely: line no. 1, Estação Nova - Universidade; and line no. 3, Estação Nova - S. António dos Olivais, via Penedo da Saudade. In 2002, the trolleybuses are replaced on line 8 and the trolleybuses are reintroduced on line 4.

An important milestone to note is in 2003, when for the first time in Portugal a public passenger transport line was implemented with electric minibuses. For this purpose, the Blue Line, where two Gulliver mini-buses circulate.

Christened Slippers, given its size compared to the Slippers, stops at a single signal, within the course, then leaving the client where they want. Take a marked route with the blue line, in the historical zone, between Alta and Baixa.

In 2007 the SMTUC have sixteen trolleybuses, which serve three routes, which correspond to 27.4 kilometers of network, Coimbra being the only city in the Iberian Peninsula that has an urban transport network of this type.

In 2008 SMTUC marks the 100th Anniversary of Urban Transport in Coimbra, from 2008 to 2013 they are involved in the CIVITAS Plus Program

2016 - Beginning of the PEDU Actions related to Mobility:

- Real-time information, tariff integration, ...;

2017 - Botanic Line (Hybrid minibuses);

2018 - Acquisition process of 10 new generation electric buses (8 standard and 2 mini);

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