I'm aware that public transport, and therefore the fleet or rolling stock is not that important for most Americans. But in Europe, we can easily get more attached to our trams than our cars since we use them more. That's why I was sad to see my daily rides go to hell in the outskirts of Budapest.

The cool thing about trams is that they can serve us for more than half a century with ease, and while their modern counterparts can take care of the busiest lines, the oldtimers can still show the children how they travelled back in the early sixties. You can find ancient trams all over Europe regardless of how wealthy a certain country is, and while they are certainly noisier and less efficient than the brand new models, no city would feel the same without them.


When it comes to the Ganz CSMG you see above, things get even more emotional. Ganz Works was Hungary's General Electric. Founded in 1844, they built everything from locomotives to giant generators, and even cars in the early days of the automobile.

The tramcars made by Ganz represent the time when we designed and built our own stuff instead of just assembling machinery for the Germans.

The first Ganz CSMG was made in 1964 after Budapest grew out of the classic UV trams and needed something bigger and more comfortable for the daily commute. They worked so well that they kept producing them up to the nineties with numerous upgrades, and 51 years after the prototype rolled out of Ganz's backyard, they are still in service today on certain lines connecting Buda and Pest, including the one I use daily.

Only six got destroyed in December, and I'm sure we won't end up without having some left in museums or in the historic fleet of Budapest when the time comes to replace them all, yet this sort of industrial slathering feels rather ungrateful from our side, especially since all six of them went to the scrapyard on their own power. New York seems to be much nicer to its subway cars, mind you that we are landlocked and there's no need for artificial reefs in the Danube.

I sound like an old man, I know.

The following pictures were taken by a young engineer who graduated at the same university where a professor drives a wonderful Wankel-powered sedan and where those who designed these trams in the first place went to school as well. The only difference is that we buy our trams from Spain nowadays despite still having the talent.

Photo credit: Péter Stefán via BMA MűTerem