1879 was the year when trams began to ply the streets of Gothenburg. There were four lines, all of which were drawn by horses and driven by cocks. The horse tramway was owned by the English company The Gothenburg Tramways Company Ltd. The journey with one line cost ten cents and the payment was handled by a conductor, who cancelled paper receipts using pliers. Only receipts with holes in them were valid as tickets, and there was not free passage (free exchange) between different lines.
Now the payment box was introduced, and the paper receipt was abolished. The conductor carried the gun where they put in their ten-trout for a one-way trip. For larger coins, change was given back, but a maximum of two crowns. The gun was emptied at the tramway's box office at the end of the day. There were six young people working in charge of the change, giving the conductors special gear bags with carefully counted coins, one bag for each denomination.
Three of the four tramway lines' termini were moved this year to Drottningtorget, as it had become too crowded at Brunnsparken. Those who needed to take a tram from there to Drottningtorget and then continue their journey with a new line would then have to pay another ten-trout that only applied to this short distance. The company assumed that it would be difficult for the public to accept and thus came the very first transfer ticket.
On January 1, the City of Gothenburg took over the horse tramway. At the same time, the decision was made to introduce free crossing between all tram lines, on the grounds that it would increase traffic without any additional investments. The conductor marked the change on the ticket with a blue pen by indicating the day of the week, the time of day and the line to be changed to. It was very fussy about the transition tickets!
The electric trams replaced the horse tram during this autumn. Then also came new transfer tickets. The lines had become six in number and each ticket had its line color. Marking about replacement was done as before by the conductor, although now the exact route to the final destination would be indicated in quite detail. Crossing was only permitted at certain designated stations.
The complicated text about exchanges was replaced by a drawn line map on the tickets. Since the payment box was still in use, these tickets were only for exchange and were only issued if requested.
In May, the price was raised to 15 cents after being 10 cents for 40 years. However, the five-trout were so large that the gun quickly became full and far too heavy. At the same time, there was a shortage of exchange coins. This led to the introduction of brass tokens.
The payment box was removed and replaced by a combined receipt and transfer ticket. When the lower left corner was not torn off, it was considered as a transfer ticket, otherwise as a receipt. There was concern that the new tickets would lead to littering. The solution was that special red bins were set up on all trams. The inspiration for the new ticket system had been taken from Kristiania, now Oslo, and consisted of the conductor signing off a change box office to buy tickets in so-called exchange kiosks. As the tickets were sold, the conductor got the money back and was able to buy new tickets.
The City of Gothenburg's bus service started with a bus line that ran between Lilla bommen and Lundby on Hisingen. This led to new transfer tickets because it was more expensive to travel by bus than by tram – green 25-penny for adults and blue 20-penny for children. The first buses only accommodated 20 seated and 10 standing, and the bus route was popular to ride with, so to get the queuing in order, queue tags were introduced. These were used throughout the 1920s.
The light rail tariff was increased and became the same as the bus fare. From now on, the same transfer tickets could be used on both buses and trams. Still, the transitions were very strict and were only allowed to take place where the lines met.
This year came the system based on zonal tariffs and coupons. The lines became longer and longer and the tariff was therefore adapted to the length of the trip, and different numbers of vouchers were required depending on the zone. In a special stamping machine, the conductor printed the coupons with a code. For example, a small booklet with 12 coupons cost two crowns. The price was then increased gradually.
A self-service ticket machine was now introduced on the trams. The coupons got a new look and became slightly longer. Tear, stamp – clearly the slogan for the ticketing system was that you had to tear off the right number of coupons from your booklet, fold at the punched markings and stamp yourself in the machine. It then printed both holes and dates.
The whole of Gothenburg was made into a zone where one trip cost two vouchers.
Now a new era for tickets on trams and buses began with the introduction of the magnetic card-based system MAGNUS. The trips were paid for with cards that had magnetic strips. The magnetic card was pressed into a green stamp box and ticket selection was made using number buttons in different colors. The date and amount of money left on the card were clearly recorded. The new tickets were available in monthly and 24-hour variants, as well as pre-loaded voucher cards with, for example, SEK 50 or 100. The system was phased in during the early nineties, and as of January 1, 1992, the former paper coupons were no longer sold.
The Västtrafik card was introduced together with the associated blue card reader, which read the cards from a distance. A few years later, they were gradually replaced with yellow card readers with more features. The new plastic cards could be loaded with different sums and period charges, replacing virtually all previous 300 variants of monthly and season cards, which had been available throughout the region. The ticketing system was based on a common Nordic standard. SMS tickets are also introduced the same year in Gothenburg.
New card readers with a large touch screen and fast card reading began to be installed on buses and trams in Gothenburg and credit card payment was introduced on the regional buses. On trams, it was also possible to pay by credit card using a vending machine.
The Västtrafik To Go mobile app was launched for the purchase of season and single tickets.
On November 4, a new, simpler ticketing system will start and 70 zones will become three.
Source text and images: Lars Y Svensson, Spårvägssällskapet Ringlinien.
- Published 2022-12-06