Electrically powered units replaced Johannesburg's horse-drawn trams

Johannesburg Municipal Tramway, Johannesburg, South Africa Trolley traffic jam in downtown Johannesburg, c. late 1940s, public domain archival image

Wednesday, 14 February 1906

The rapid expansion of Johannesburg after the end of the Second Anglo Boer War increased to over twice it's the area to what existed before the war. This increase meant that the usual means of transporting provisions and articles to and from the city itself became inadequate. This was primarily due to the extraction of gold, which after the end of hostilities was in full production. The first electric tram line commenced service on 14 of February 1906.

Electric trams had been proven to be an efficient means of mass transport in the industrialised Northern Hemisphere nations and were readily available for purchase. A factor that ensured the implementation of electric trams in Johannesburg was that in contrast to horse drawn trams, electric trams could traverse steep inclines with ease. The trams were to remain in service up until 1948, when increased private automobile use and a shift in urban densities convinced local authorities to terminate the tram service.


  1. Beavon.K.S.O, (2002), The Role of Transport in the Rise and Decline of the Johannesburg CBD, 18866-2001, Department of Geography & Geoinformatics, University of Pretoria [online] available at: http://web.up.ac.za [accessed 8 February 2010]

Last updated : 14-Feb-2018

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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