Porto, apart from transport grid in the form of metro, still has a bus network supplementing rail transport, but also a small urban tram network. About its present significance, gas and electric drives of buses and atypical means of transport that allow to overcome dozens of meter height differences; we’ll talk in this episode. Let’s watch! Porto Almada and Lisbon High Speed Railway Heavy Metro Light Metro Trams Ferries and Buses Transport in Portugal Thanks for your fan $ support! Trams and buses in Porto Porto has a much longer streetcar tradition than light metro network launched at beginning of 21st century. First trams pulled by mules were already running here in 1872 and later also steam trams appeared. After more than 30 years, the network was fully electrified and at its peak in mid-twentieth century it reached length of 82 kilometers of tracks and then it was even longer than today’s metro network. At the time, over 190 trams were in service. At turn of the 1950s and 1960s a slow process of suppressing this mode of transport began in Porto, initially to change on trolleybuses and later mainly on buses. Today, the classic tram essentially has only historical and tourist meaning, and active network has just over 9 km of tracks and is served by 7 trams. Roots of tram network from the very beginning have remained to this day – it is the route no. 1 leading from Infante along the river Duero to Foz (today route ends at Passeio Alegre stop). However, this route was much longer and led via coast of Atlantic Ocean to known to us from the previous episode, the Matosinhos city, Remaining’s of this line have survived to this day and here and there fragments of tracks still appear in roadway. Today, two more lines operate – 18 and 22, penetrating downtown of Porto. Most sections of network are single track, part of routes are ridden only in one direction and on those used in both directions there are short double-track sections. It is quite surprising that tram network is only maintained for historic journeys. Each of the three lines runs every day with a frequency of 30 minutes. Departures on today’s network have touristic meaning and 7 trams are sufficient for servicing a small network. These are restored old wagons from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. An interesting operation here is change of direction at route end. Driver changes direction boards on tram, also switches power collector to reverse direction together with puller, while at the same time passengers switches bocks of the seats to the other side. After all, tram can start another course. Out of curiosity let’s check out, how many passengers are transported on this small network. Throughout 2017, trams carried 730,000 passengers, so 2,000 passengers use them on average every day. As for available number of connections and frequency of running, it seems to be quite a good result, although very distant from metro network in Porto with an annual number of 58 million passengers. I suspect that anyway number regarding the tram network include any journeys and occasional rentals. In addition to possibility of a tram ride for visitors, there is also a museum set up in old depot, where you can see even more wagons once used in Porto. Bus network in Porto is quite big today. Agglomeration network covers almost 500 kilometers of roads with 59 day and 11 night lines. Lines have an interesting numbering, because there are three-digit numbers and first digit is associated with municipality or part of the city, which line is servicing. Basic daily line network operates between 6:00 and 21:00, however two thirds of lines operates longer and ends 30 minutes after midnight. Later, only night lines can be found on streets of Porto. Network is operated by 420 buses, of which 49 are articulated, 15 double-decker, eight minibuses and remaining are standard length buses. Biggest distinguishing feature of bus fleet in Porto is its fuel – compressed natural gas. In coming years, urban rolling stock will be dominated by this type of drive. Today more than 65% of the fleet is made up of CNG buses and there will be even more of them. Currently are held further deliveries of a total of 173 new gas buses that will end in 2020. Eco-friendly drive in new vehicles meets Euro 6c combustion standard and buses are equipped with 6-cylinder engines with 310 horsepower. Latest buses produced for Porto have their Polish episode – their chassis are being built in MAN’s plant in Starachowice (Poland) and theirs body is built by Portuguese company Caetano Bus. In 2017, average age of bus in Porto was 15 years and these purchases will definitely improve this parameter. At the same time as purchase of CNG buses there is a project to implement 15 electric buses. These are Caetano vehicles of the e.City Gold model that take 72 passengers on board. Buses are equipped with lithium-ion batteries, they can be charged only thanks to plug-in connection and on a single charge they are able to travel a maximum of 200 kilometers. One electric bus with a charging station cost carrier approximately 460,000 euro, so it is a price level very similar to the Polish one. From the tourist perspective, most interesting bus line is 500, which runs from center of Porto along quay of Douro River and Atlantic Ocean coast to Matosinhos. There used to be trams on a similar route and today it is an alternative route to the metro line A. On “500” service run MAN double-decker buses. Dimensions of these city buses make a big impression, because three-axle vehicle is 13.7-meters-long and 4-meters-high. Of course, best views are provided from first row of seats on top deck of this bus. “Sightseeing Tour” bus network is very popular in Porto, with an offer especially aimed at tourists who want to quickly get to know city and its main attractions from deck of a double-decker bus. From central square in the city – Praça da Liberdade – buses of three companies dealing with this type of transport depart: Gray Line, City Sightseeing and Yellow Bus. Getting even more pleasure from ride allows an open roof on upper deck of buses of these networks. 5% of road network served by STCP bus transport has designated bus lanes. While on weekends these lanes are not necessary for efficient bus traffic, they are definitely helpful in weekdays in center of Porto. Car traffic in Portugal is generally increased and during rush hour there is a state of high traffic congestion. In Porto, however, this is not yet as shocking as in case of Lisbon, which we will discuss in next episodes. Porto is one of those cities where transport between different levels of altitude is also ensured. Near metro stop of D line at Ludwik I bridge, but on side of town of Vila Nova de Gaia there is a cable car that allows passengers to slide over city’s roofs to coastal promenade. In five minutes, differences of 57 meters are achieved and a distance of 560 meters. In total there are 14 gondolas on the move and each of them can accommodate 8 passengers. In effect, rail is not only a tourist attraction providing possibility of passing over city buildings, but also has practical applications in transport between this level differences. The other specific high-altitude means of transport in Porto is Funicular dos Guindais. It is also a means of transport mainly for tourists, allowing, among other things, for a change between tram line No. 22 moving in upper downtown of Porto, to line No. 1 going along coast of Duero river. Railway route is 281-meters-long and height differences of 61 meters are overcome. At the same time, one cabin on board can take up to 25 passengers and on route there are two cabins passing each other in the middle of route. Protoplast of metro in Porto is city tram network, although today its importance in city’s life is marginal and brought to tourist and historical attractions. Trams have been supplanted by buses that are struggling with heavy traffic conditions on streets of Porto and metropolis. However, their impact on environment is limited to a minimum, today bus fleet is largely made up of gas buses and there is also an experiment going on with electric drive. Buses also serve tourists and most popular are city and private connections serviced by double-deckers. Transport in Porto, moreover, works not only in the plan, but also vertically, where several dozen-meter height differences are overcome. As we have seen, tourist potential of second largest city in Portugal is tried to be used by as many transport means as possible. Meanwhile, thanks for your attention and see you next time. Bye!