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The Odessa Tramway

15. September 2009 by Gregg 0 Comments

While cities such as Kiev and Dnipropetrovsk were the recipients of bustling subway or “Metro” systems during the height of Soviet expansion, the city of Odessa was forced to adopt a different system for public transportation.


The city of Odessa is famous for, among other things, a large sprawling labyrinth of mines and tunnels that have come to be known as the Odessa catacombs. While these are an interesting and strange tourist destination and an important and unique feature of the city itself, the size and precarious nature of the tunnels made them unsuitable for adaptation into a subway system. Instead of the Rapid transit systems of the larger cities, Odessa has relied on a much quainter system: trams and trolleys.


Not unlike the tram systems that operate in some historic US cities such as San Francisco, the Odessa Tramway was opened in the late 1800’s and to this day is mostly free to ride. The system consists of around 26 routes which evolved over the years from basic horse-drawn trams to the electric ones mostly seen today.


There is talk of Odessa introducing their own Rapid Transit System, reports vary from a subway being built after an extended period of construction to the local Odessa government forgoing a subway system altogether and installing a monorail. Until a decision is made, Odessa’s tram system remains an interesting artifact from Ukraine’s history.