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Carris: Companhia Carris de Ferro de Lisboa and the
Museu da Carris (Carris Transport Museum)
Its electric tram services were introduced on 31 August, 1901 on a route to Ribamar (Algés) from Cais do Sodré. Although five buses were acquired in 1912, these were withdrawn in 1915. Buses did not make a return to Carris's fleet until 9 April, 1944, although six vehicles had been acquired in 1940.
Today the company operates bus, elevator and funicular services. In 1998, 383.5 million passengers were carried, compared with 385.7M the previous year and 376.18M in 1996, 379.2M (1995) and 381.2M (1994). However, 2000 saw an 8.1% drop in passengers to 326M and a loss of €75M. In 2004 256.6 millions were carried and by 2008 this had declined to 234.4M. The losses are largely attributed to Metro extensions and increased car usage. However, the Metro and Carris are cooperating over plans for integrated networks, including a surface Metro between Algés and Odivelas. Whilst the average journey speed on Carris buses has been static more or less for several years at around 14.4km/hr (2008), on the tram system it improved to 10.km/hr after the introduction of modern articulated trams on route 15.
Carris's headquarters (above, left) are in the Rua 1 de Maio, no.101, at Santo Amaro which lies on tram route 15, about 15/20 minutes' ride from Praça da Figueira. At Santo Amaro, too, is its tram shed and museum, situated almost directly beneath the enormous Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge across the River Tagus. Its other tram depot, Arco do Cego, on the Avenida Duque de Ávila, was vacated and converted into Lisbon's main coach station but that facility has now moved to Sete Rios; for details, see the Lisbon Suburban Bus and Coach page.
At one time, Arco do Cego housed the entire fleet with Santo Amaro being chiefly a repair depot. Arco do Cego has now been turned into a covered car park with an adjacent garden. Another former depot, at Amoreiras, opened in 1937 and closed in 1981, is now the site of a major shopping centre. New Carris bus depots were opened at Pontinha (1975) and Musgueira (1981), whilst a large complex was opened by the President of Portugal at Miraflores in June 1983.
The museum's fleet comprised the following trams at the time of opening: #260,283,329,330,506,508,535,549,741,777,802,904 and trailer #101. Since then tram #747 and works-car (zorra) #68 have been added. All of the trams are beautifully restored in period liveries and in running order. Indeed, numbers 283,330,508,535 and 802 were all put into service on 18 September 1999 to coincide with use of the museum for a function to celebrate the 126th anniversary of Carris services.
Also housed in the museum are AEC double-decker buses #217,301 and 486 and single-decker #76. Daimler double-deckers #837 and 851 are also displayed. Carris has started a monthly opportunity to ride in its vintage buses; this occurs on the third Saturday of each month (from 22 May 2010) at 3pm from Santo Amaro. Using buses 76, 109, 217, 301 and 486, the route takes you to Entre Campos and returns to Santo Amaro via Belém.
Once inside the museum, you are able to wander freely in Núcleo 1, although Portuguese-speaking guides are sometimes on hand. Here there are interesting exhibits of tram tickets, photographs, uniforms, models, maps and other artefacts. All are accompanied by English as well as Portuguese labels. Once you have finished there, you are escorted through a door at the back of the room to the waiting tourist tram for the short ride through the depot yard to Núcleo 2 where the trams and buses are housed.
The second building comprises two adjoining sheds of historic trams and buses as well as an interesting display of the former print shop. A guided tour is sometimes given in Portuguese and photography is quite explicitly allowed but often you may be just left to wander round at will.
There are also some exhibits from the former Carris power station and of some track-laying equipment. Some interesting historic photos adorn the walls, including depictions of accidents.
During its first year of operation the Carris museum welcomed 15,473 visitors (to 31 December 1999).
By comparison, at 31 December 2005, Carris employed 2,787 staff, comprising 1598 drivers and 165 tram drivers. Its fleet comprised 785 buses, 58 trams, 3 funiculars and 1 elevator.
The fleet as listed on the Carris website in 2010 differed slightly in numbers from above, as follows:
The articulated fleet comprises:
The midi-bus fleet comprises:
The mini-bus fleet comprises:
The fleet for disabled users comprises:
The tram fleet comprises
The Carris fleet of trams has traditionally been painted in yellow and white but advertising liveries which once made any plain yellow and white vehicles a rarity have now largely disappeared. The new articulated trams were all totally covered by advertising liveries which in most cases also covered the windows but many have now been restored to the plain yellow livery. Buses are now yellow with multicoloured trim, having been orange and mushroom coloured for some years previously. That livery replaced a dark green livery prevalent into the 1970s.
Adjacent: Viva Viagem tickets look identical at first glance but differ according to the alphabetical prefix on their front. The reverse of the same tickets generally indiactes more clearly which transport system has issued them. For a fuller explanation, see below.
Although there is an array of tickets and passes available to users of public transport in Lisbon, for the visitor, things were simplified by the Viva Viagem and Sete Colinas (7 Hills) electronic "proximity" passes - similar to London's Oyster Card. (The title of 7 Colinas is an allusion to the belief that Lisbon is built on 7 hills, like Rome). Latterly the Viva Viagem pass has been introduced alongside the Sete Colinas pass and is now more common and, in many circumstances, seems to be interchangeable with it.
These electronic passes have replaced the old Tourist Pass (bilhete turístico) which could be acquired for either a four or seven-day period. The Sete Colinas/Viva Viagem passes cost half a euro and can then be charged up for a selected number of days to allow unfettered transport on all of the Carris and Metro network. In summer 2010, a day's travel on the Carris network (i.e. buses, trams, funiculars, elevator) and the Metro cost 5 euros. The Viva Viagem tickets carry a code indicating their validity; those obtained from Metro station machines are prefixed ML and are valid as above.
To recharge your card follow the simple instructions (in various languages) on the two-tone blue ticket machines at every Metro station. You can pay with notes as well as coins. One problem with the Viva Viagem system is that although the cards are interoperable on Carris's and the Metro systems, the same ticket is not valid on the Transtejo ferries, the Fertagus trains, Metro Transportes do Sul and local suburban trains run by CP, even though these companies all have Viva Viagem tickets of their own, which look the same (apart from the alphabetical prefix to their numbering). In other words, you cannot use one of the operator’s cards for use on another's system except between Carris and the Metro. Thus, you can end up with four or five seemingly identical Viva Viagem cards each only usable on Carris/Metro, TransTejo, Fertagus, MST or CP. If you look carefully at these you will see that the ticket number has a prefix denoting the system for which it is valid; ML=Metro Lisboa and Carris, TT=Transtejo, FT=Fertagus, MST=Metro Sul Tejo and CP=CP railways. When loaded with value, the Viva Viagem card is valid for 24 hours and not just a calendar day.
All vehicles and Metro turnstiles have card readers. The card need only be held over the sensor to register and, indeed, can even be left in a wallet when doing this. The card can be purchased at any Metro station and at Carris kiosks. (NB Also publicised to tourists is the Lisboa/Lisbon card, which is much more expensive (17 euros for 24 hours in 2010) as its main benefit is to give discount admission to tourist attractions - see below).
From 9 September 2006 the old BUC pre-purchased transport ticket was withdrawn by Carris and replaced by the electronic "7 Colinas - Bilhete 1 Zona” at the same cost. The new one-zone ticket is valid for one hour after its first validation. A"2 Zonas" version allows travel in two city zones for up to 2 hours. The card is validated inside vehicles by holding it about 5cm from the validator. In summer 2010 it cost 0.80 euros. As of summer 2010 the cost of buying a single ticket on board a bus or tram was 1.40 euros, so the current daily charge of 3.70 for unlimited usage in the city area is good value. But there is no multiple ticket for more than a day.
There are also many combined passes available to locals; these permit travel on Carris services as well as those of suburban bus firms such as TST; other combined passes cover Carris routes and suburban railway services to Sintra, Azambuja, Cascais and the Sado area near Setúbal. There is even a combined ticket covering the river ferries and Carris services.
All tickets should be cancelled on boarding trams and buses, using the on-board machines. On the articulated trams, tickets can be bought from on-board machines, as the driver does not sell tickets or check passes. Coins are required for the machines. Viva Viagem passes should be validated by the automatic readers on all bus and tram services. Fertagus tickets should be validated on the platform before first use.
Transporlis is a useful portal covering all modes of Lisbon transport which contains timetable and fares information.
An alternative for tourists who wish to Lisbon's museums is the Lisbon Card, which gives unlimited use of Carris services (except the Aerobus, tourist bus and tram-tour route, as well as free use of the Metro and of the Cascaisrailway line from C. Sodré to Belém. In addition it provides free entry to 26 Lisbon museums and monuments. Amongst the museums covered are the Maritime Museum, Coach Museum and Air Museum. The Card may be purchased in City Tourist Offices and other outlets.
A map of the Carris transport
system may be found on their Web site. Further details of their bus, tram, funicular and
elevator services may be found by clicking on the appropriate link
Other Lisbon Museums
Other museums (most of which are closed on Mondays) which are well worth a visit include:
Compiled by John Laidlar