Aktiengesellschaft Bremer Pferdebahn (Bremen horse-drawn tram company) went into operation in 1876. The company was successful, and the competition got wind of what was happening. In 1879, a London-based company began the Große Bremer Pferdebahn (grand Bremen horse-drawn tramway) from Walle to Hastedt. The development went at a dizzying pace for the time. Bremen already had a train station. There were several railway lines. The telephone had just been invented.
As early as 1889, an electric test route was planned, which went into operation in 1890. And thus the “Elektrische” came into being in Bremen. Bremer Pferdebahn (Bremen horse-drawn tram company) was renamed Bremer Straßenbahn (Bremen tram company), and electrical operations began in 1892. Große Bremer Pferdebahn didn’t think much of electricity. It remained true to its hooved friends and was taken over by Bremer Straßenbahn in 1899, which then electrified its lines too.
In the following years, the network was continually expanded. The next big step came in 1910: the first trolley bus was put into operation. The trolley bus and tram network was then expanded, and the vehicles improved.
It was clear that the residents of Bremen were happy to have the offer of public transport. Demand grew with the number of inhabitants. In 1924, the first line of the diesel bus network run by Bremer Verkehrsgesellschaft (Bremen transport company, BVG) went into operation. This network was also continually expanded and improved. This continued on the up until the war put a stop to things.
The re-start in 1945 was all about improvisation. As early as 1947, male and female drivers received the same salaries at Bremer Straßenbahn. In 1953, Straßenbahn took over BVG’s public service bus operations. In 1961, the last trolley bus line was decommissioned. The special vehicles could no longer be run economically.
The rest of the network was expanded, the vehicles were modernised and the timetables were constantly adapted to meet the needs of users even better. Today, BSAG offers 8 tram lines with a total length of 114.6 km; the bus network has 44 lines and is 505.4 km in length. 120 low-floor vehicles, 2 high-floor vehicles, 162 articulated buses and 50 twin-axle vehicles run on these lines.
The network, the vehicles and the organisation are, of course, continually being expanded, improved and made even more user-friendly. But the aims haven’t changed. Longer, better, nicer is no longer enough.
A paper on the company policy states: »Competitiveness and efficiency of services, social commitment towards employees and responsibility for the environment are part of the company’s guiding philosophy and represent equally valuable corporate goals.« Trams are thus equipped with energy recovery systems that generate energy whilst braking, and this energy is fed back into the grid. We buy buses with low emissions of harmful substances, are testing fully electric buses and have even thought about the re-introduction of trolley buses. BSAG operates an ISO-certified environmental management system for the entire business, regularly publishes an environmental declaration and is registered with EMAS, the European Union’s voluntary ECO management and audit scheme. BSAG has recognised the signs of the times and is clearly oriented towards the future.
More information on historic vehicles can be found on the website of»Freunde der Bremer Straßenbahn e.V.«.