The beginnings of the public transport in Czestochowa date back to 1903. At that time a few newspapers published a call for tenders to run an electric tram. The terms and conditions of that tender were approved by the then Ministry of Internal Affairs and the bid decision was scheduled for 18th March 1903. Unfortunately, the bids received by the city authorities were rejected for not taking the city’s specific character into account.
In 1908 the authorities received another two offers. The first one was to run a horse-drawn tram and the other to run an electric tram and city street lights. The idea to run the horse tram was immediately considered obsolete and unaesthetic and therefore disregarded. The second offer, although having had feasibility studies done, was never accepted by the city authorities.
Though, it is worthwhile mentioning that Czestochowa did have its “horse tram episode”. Back in 1908 horse omnibuses operated in Rakow area for a short period of time. There were subsequent attempts to run trams in the interwar period. One of those attempts was a project submitted by the “Siła i Światło” (Power and Light) Association, that then run the city’s power plant. However, even that project was unsuccessful.
The tram idea eventually fizzled out and the city authorities established the City Bus Service. It existed, with varying degree of success, till 1932 when it was closed down due to financial deficit and low number of passengers. Two years after, private concessionaires were contracted to run bus service in the city. However, they were far from creating a real public transport network. Finally, the outbreak of the Second World War put an end to their activities.
During the occupation there was no public transport. The joy at the end of the war and the reconstruction of the country unleashed new energy and ideas among the Czestochowa city dwellers. In 1946 two private companies, “ZGODA” and “AUTOKOMUNIKACJA” started running bus services. With only 8 buses on 4 routes, of the total length of 30 km, they carried over 3million passangers a year. This however did not last very long…
In 1948 due to nationalisation process, private operators were forced to close down and hand over their vehicle stock to the PKS - Panstwowa Komunikacja Samochodowa (National Car Transport). The short-lived PKS city bus service ended on 28 February 1950. On 1 March 1950 Miejskie Przedsiebiorstwo Komunikacyjne (MPK) (Public Transport Company) takes over the public transport service. MPK was actually established due to a transformation of Miejskie Zaklady Komunikacyjne, which being a subject to city authorities, began operating in August 1949.
The legal basis for the MPK to exist as a state-owned enterprise was a resolution of the Presidium of the City’s State Council in Czestochowa No 463/50 of 23 November 1950 and a consent from the Ministry of Public Economy No 0/8/2/zb/51 of 8 January 1951.
The beginings of MPK were difficult. The company did not have its own technical facilities or offices. The vehicle stock was kept at other companies’ premises and the offices were scattered around the city. In its first year of existence, there were 16 buses operating 4 service routes of the total length of 37 km. Of those 16 buses, 12 were new MAVAG TR5 buses bought in Hungary. MPK carried 8.5 million passangers till the end of the year and employed 182 people. Some of the company’s organisational problems were solved in 1951. It then received a bus depot at Wilsona Street 44/54. The depot had 17 garage boxes and 13 inspection pits. Until 1955 the depot was also used by the City Cleaning Service.
The first half of the fifties was the period of opening of new bus routes and building repair and operational facilities but also expanding company’s assets and hiring new staff. It was all conducive to the decisions to expand the Bierut Steelworks, which was associated with the development of new residential areas. In 1955 the city population increased to 150.000. The growing public transportation needs could have only been met by the development of a tramway network. Even though the decision to build the network was taken in 1951, the first tram went on the streets of Czestochowa only in 1959 due to prolonged road and bridge works.
The 1959 was in many ways a watershed year for the MPK. Due to the opening of the tramway service on 8 March 1959 but also due to expansion into taxi and removal services, the company became a multi-service establishment. At that time a new tram depot and a four storey building at Zrodlana Street, which is where the MPK head office is located till today, were commissioned.
Starting tramway service at that time was a Europe-wide phenomenon. Trams were then seen as relics and done away with. It was only in the eighties and nineties that the trams proved to be one of the best and most environmentally friendly means of urban public transport. The first tram line opened on 8 March 1959 and had a total length of 7.1km. It was a double-track route that run along a separated side of the street from Worcella Street, along Kosciuszki Avenue, Wolnosci, ZWM (currently Niepodleglosci Avenue), Pokoju Avenue up to Kucelin terminus. On 21 July 1959, second tram line was opened, which branched from the first one and run to the area of Stary Rakow (along the Lukasinskiego Street) and had a length of 1.5km.
The launched traction network was equipped with 14 type N, engine cars and 26 type ND trailer cars produced by KONSTAL, a production company of steel constructions from Chorzow. In the first year of the tram service operation, the trams carried 8.2 million passengers and did 1.6 milion vehicle-kilometers. Consequently, changes were made to the bus network by adapting it to the changed passenger’s needs. In the following years, together with the city expansion, public transport route network was adjusted and new types of buses were introduced. In 1960 the vehicle stock consisted of 61 buses and 38 trams and the length of all 29 routes was 179km. The total of 42.1 million passengers was carried.
In 1962 a "Conceptual Study of Czestochowa Public Transportation System for the years 1970 and 1980 perspective term” was issued. It became the basis for the reorganisation of traffic on public transport links in the coming years. Generally, the system is still in use however it was amended due to the extension of existing and the opening of new routes.
Introduction of articulated JELCZ buses in 1966 significantly increased the MPK’s carriage capacity. Two years later there were already 15 of those buses in operation. Ticket Vending Machines and ticket punches were introduced in the sixties. Ultimately, MPK introduced advance ticket sale from newsagents “Ruch” and self punch ticket validation systems, in the seventies. On 1 January 1969, due to unsatisfactory technical and economic results MPK closed down its taxi service.
In 1970 the company received the Council of Ministers and CRZZ banner for coming first in the all country public transportation companies’ competition. At the end of the year there were 20 routes in operation of the total length of 216km and the company carried 77.2 million passengers. The company’s vehicle stock consisted of 142 buses and 45 trams including new articulated, type 102 N trams. A new bus depot on Zrodlana Street was opened three years later. It was ready to handle 200 buses and had off-site parking, repair and inspection hall, workshops but also car wash facilities, paint shop and a petrol station. The total bill for that investment was 57.000.000 zlotych. In 1973 the total number of passengers carried exceeds 100.000.000.
At the end of the seventies, despite the amount of vehicle stock, the quality of the company’s services decreased. Frequent breakdowns and vehicle no turn-ups are caused by the lack of spare parts or their bad quality. In order to solve the problem, MPK opened its own regeneration and spare parts production service at the Wilsona Street workshops. In 1984 the tramway tracks are extended to Polnoc quarter, which resulted in the whole traction system reaching 10.2 km in length. Every 3 minute service frequency along Huta – Tysiaclecie section, and every 5 minute service along the Polnoc section were introduced. The tram line reached its maximum carriage capacity of 50 million passengers a year, in a very short time..
In 1985 the company operated 34 different routes of the total length of 511km. The whole vehicle stock, 225 buses and 69 trams, carried more than 132 million people. After the political changes and the establishment of local authorities in 1991, The MPK’s operational structure was also reorganised. From a state-owned company, by resolution of the Czestochowa City Council, the company was restructured into a budgetary enterprise and named MIEJSKI ZAKLAD KOMUNIKACJI. In the beginning of 90‘s the country went through dynamic automotive boom. Poles had more cars at their disposal every year. At the same time an increase in energy and fuel prices and a decrease in passenger numbers had a negative impact on the economic condition of public transport companies. This situation was not unknown to MZK in Czestochowa. While in 1995 the number of passengers carried was 114.4 mln a year, it dropped to 93.1 mln in 1999. The compny’s employment levels were limited to 1025 staff. Despite the difficulties the company adapted more and more to act on the principles of the free market economy.
In 1992 company acquired a new KARCHER bus wash. A year later the company bought 5 articulated IKARUS 435 buses. In 1994 the articulated 102N trams were withdrawn from use and the tram vehicle stock was standardised to 105 N cars. A new ticketing system based on an individual and all-network bearer tickets sale was introduced. In order to help the disabled MZK launched 3 mini van transport services. They were VW vans provided by the National Service for Disabled Persons. To further improve the service for passengers, the company bought further 13 IKARUS 415 buses in 1995. A year later the local authorities bought and gave MZK 17 articulated IKARUS 280 buses and 12 low-floor access IKARUS 412 buses. The total amount allocated for this purpose was 12.3 mln PLN.
Between 1998 and 2000 the tram line was further modernised. Tramway crossings on Jana Pawla II Avenue, Dekabrystow, Najswietszej Marii Panny, Orzechowskiego-Sobieskiego Streets were reconstructed using the so called “Hungarian” method. Major repairs of tramway tracks, including drainage, soundproofing and correction of bends, were carried out in Tysiaclecie quarter between Worcela and PCK Streets. Double arm traction poles were installed in the area of Dekabrystow Street, for the first time.
Further activities aimed at making the company more modern and competitive, were carried out in 2000. This included a change of the company’s legal status. Pursuant to City Council resolution No 262/XXIII/2000 from 28th March 2000 MIEJSKI ZAKŁAD KOMUNIKACJI was put into liquidation on 1 April. It was replaced with a sole-shareholder company of the State Treasury MIEJSKIE PRZEDSIĘBIORSTWO KOMUNIKACYJNE w Częstochowie Sp. z o. o, which took over the liquidated company’s assets and staff on 1 July 2000.
On its 50th Anniversary, the company purchased 7 MAN low-floor buses, emergency service vehicle, and radio communication system and modernised 6 tramway cars. On behalf of the city authorities, BIT, Poznan based company, carried out “Czestochowa Public Transport Survey”. Its purpose was to improve transport efficiency, standards and quality of the service and to identify prospects for the development of public transport in Czestochowa till 2010.
The most important event in 2002 was the implementation of the results of the Public Transport Survey and the related change in the city transportation system as well as bus timetables. 9 low floor SOLARIS buses were purchased for the amount of 6.5 million zlotych. In February, the company acquired a modern telephone exchange and a modern emergency service vehicle for servicing the tram traction system.
Many important changes, to improve the quality of the transportation services, were introduced in 2003. As a result of passengers’ and MPK’s conclusions and opinions, some of the Public Transport Survey solutions that had been implemented were modified. Many of the solutions suggested in the survey simply did not work and the old solutions were often reintroduced. The actions that were aimed at improving company management efficiency had mostly to do with the execution of the austerity measure plan in the areas of employment, vehicle stock use and the infrastructure operation. New diagnostic station and car wash services for individual clients were introduced. The company also expanded its ticket control system in order to increase revenue from penalty fares and to reduce the number of “free-riding” passengers. In July front door access rule with drivers controlling passangers’ tickets was tried for three months. Clear benefits of the front door access rule for the company became the basis of the rule being introduced into the new Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne terms and conditions of carriage from 1 March 2004.
2004 was yet another year of improvement in company’s financial results. The net balance sheet loss was decreased by 1.406.000 zlotych compared to 2003. Changes to the timetables, developed by a group of bus drivers, were introduced in 4 stages. They were aimed at getting the right travel time and adapting the service to the constantly changing road conditions. Changes to the city’s transportation network on bus routes 15, 16, 17, 23, 53, 54, 65 and 69 were introduced. On 1 July 2004 service line 70 was closed down. On 1 March 2004, the front door access rule with drivers controlling passangers’ tickets was included in the new terms and conditions of carriage. Finalisation of important investments: modernisation of a tracktion substation’s control line, expansion of internal optical fibre network, completion of the building of two major hydrocarbon separators on two existing industrial drainage sewer outlets into public sewers and expansion of telecommunications network through a purchase of radio telephones. Significant renovations to the tram tracks were performed: along the Armii Krajowej Avenue, in the area of Krupinski Street, and tramway crossings on Bor and Illakowiczowny Streets. In December 2004, 6 used, fully roadworthy, low floor access, ecological MAN busses were purchased. Preparations were made to purchase an electronic ticket sales system and passenger information system. The company applied for the EU Grant from the Structural funds to cover 75% value of the investment.
Further increase in diesel prices in 2005 had a negative impact on the company finances resulting in 1.5 mln zlotych additional costs. Between 2002 and 2005 diesel prices soared by as much as 40%. In April, 4 used, fully roadworthy articulated, MAN NG 272 with type Euro 1 engines, buses were purchased to replace buses that were written-off. Further 20 tram cars were modernised. They had static inverters that reduce the noise levels installed. 46 out of 48 company trams were then modernised. The EU funds applications, to purchase new buses and electronic ticketing system, submitted in that year, were unsuccessful. In Silesia, all the funds from the pool containing public transportation were spent on the construction of roads. In order to compensate for the dramatic increase in fuel prices, ticket prices went up by approximately 10% on 1 September. Another reason for raising the ticket prices was a dramatic increase in the number of people entitled to free travel, which caused a drop in ticket sales. The company started issuing and registering special identity cards that entitle, phisically disabled people and those with significant degree of disability, to free travel. Changes were introduced on bus routes nr 19, 17, 21, 52 and 54. Based on research, stop frequency times were introduced on the route16 and later in July on the routes 12, 19 and 32. Despite the loss, caused by the fuel prices, the company achieved positive results by reducing employment costs. In 2005 average annual employment dropped by 18 regular posts and the employment costs were reduced by 1.1 mln zlotych compared with 2004. In December 2005 Company’s equity was increased by 10.6 mln zlotych by the owner – the City of Czestochowa. The money would be spent on the purchase of new buses and electronic ticketing system in 2006.
In 2006 Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne provided public transport services on 37 transport routes including 26 urban bus lines, 10 suburban bus lines and 1 tramway line. The vehicle stock on 31 December 2006 was: 164 buses with an average operational period of 13 years and 48 tramway cars with an average operational period of 23 years.
At the end of the year, the company bought 18 new, Euro 3 norm Mercedes-Benz buses and a fully roadworthy, used MAN NL 202 bus. Among the 18 new buses purchased there were 10 Mercedes-Benz O 530 models and 8 Mercedes-Benz O345 Concerto models.
Towards the end of the year the company signed a contract with R&G Plus Sp. z o.o. from Mielec for the provision of electronic information system together with a set of devices allowing automated public transport fare collection using contactless smartcard.
New type of tickets was introduced: the time-limit passes: 30, 45 and 60 minute passes (on sale since 2 June 2006). A resolution of the City Council No 904/LVII/2006 of 27th March 2006 served as basis for their introduction.
On 31 August renovation of a historical Konstal 4N1 tram, commonly known as “N-ka”, was completed. Two months later erection of a new petrol station, replacing the old one that was built back in the seventies of the XX century, was completed.
In July MPK started providing work commute transportation services for the employees of TRW Polska.
The company also replaced 141 traction poles in that year.
In 2007, the company provided public transport services on 37 public transport routes (since 1 July reduced to 34 lines) including 26 urban bus lines, 10 suburban bus lines, between 1 January and 30 June 2007, then 7 suburban bus lines between 1 July and 31 December 2007 and 1 tramway line.
The vehicle stock on 31st December 2007 was: 148 buses with an average operational period of 13 years and 48 tramway cars with an average operational period of 24 years. In 2007 the vehicle stock was reduced by 17 buses including: 11 Jelcz M11 (biaxial) – disposed of by scrapping, 6 Ikarus 280 (three axle) – disposed of by scrapping and inceased the stock by 1 short, low floor Mercedes-Benz O 530 bus. Since the 1 May the routes of the bus lines 11, 12, 18, 19, 26, 27, 31, 36 were permanently changed due to the permanent road closure of the III Avenue.
Due to the flyover closure at Pokoju Avenue between 17 July and 21 December 2007, trams and a bus line 19 terminated at Rakow – Train Station terminus. Replacement bus service operated between Rakow Train Station and Kucelin. Since 22 December 2007 the bus route 19 operated along its regular route to Kucelin and Walcownia. Due to the tram line being not in service, the replacement bus service continued to operate along that route.
On 1 July the bus routes 51, 52, 62 ceased to operate in Blachownia Commune. Due to contract details, the bus routes 22 and 32 continued to operate till the end of 2007. Blachowania City Council, after announcing call for tenders for the provision of public transport within Blachownia Commune and Czestochowa city limits actioned annulment of tender awards on two different occasions and resigned from using MPK Czestochowa Sp. z o.o. services.
On 29 October 2007 a contract to purchase 10 new, short, low floor Mercedes-Benz buses to be delivered in March 2008, was signed. Investment project completion date was postponed due to the City not being able to secure sufficient funds on time. MPK gained an additional short, low floor, Mercedes-Benz bus in May as a form of compensation for not fulfilling terms and conditions of a previous contract agreement.
On 14 May Czestochowa City Council passed a resolution No 105/XI/2007 introducing sale of electronic tickets and amending the entitlement to free travel for people with physical disability. On 27 August City Council passed a resolution No 154/XI/2007 reamending the entitlement to free and reduced fare travel.
In 2008 the company provided public transport services on 33 day bus routes including 26 urban bus routes, 7 suburban bus routes and 1 tramway line. The company introduced the following changes to the city’s transportation network:
changes to the bus routes 13,15,21,22 due to Dabrowskiego Street repairs between 25 February and 7 July
By agreement with Poczesna Commune authorities, the bus route 54 was shut down and the bus route 65, towards Poczesna – Zawodzie was changed.
4 weekend, night bus routes operating on Friday and Saturday nights were introduced from 1 May on the City Council request,
Weekend night tram service and increase in frequency of Monday to Friday night trams were introduced from 1 May 2008 on the City Council request
change to the bus routes 53, 65, 68, 69 timetables and partial alteration of the bus route 65
Due to reopening of the Pokoju Avenue flyover, tramway traffic to Kucelin-Szpital stop was restored from 1 August 2008. Replacement bus service between Rakow Train Station – Kucelin Szpital was shut down.
Alteration of the route 31 service from Grabowka terminus to the Communal cementary and shortening of the route 12 service, bus no longer goes to the Communal cementary from 1 August 2008
From 15 September 2008 - service 21 route alteration of the section: Estakada flyover via 11 Listopada Street to Bohaterow Katynia Street
Due to the requirement to adhere to the EU driver working time regulations, changes to the following bus route timetables were made:
From 1 September 2008 – bus routes 11,16,19,28
From 1 October 2008 – bus routes 18,22,24,33
From 1 November 2008 – bus routes 15,25,26,29,32
Furthermore, the terminus at Legionow Street was relocated due to the claim laid by the land owner where the bus loop at Hallera Street was located. In agreement with City Roads Authority the location of the terminus loop was changed. From 20 February 2008 the terminus loop of the bus route 11 was moved to Legionow Street next to TRW car park.
The vehicle stock on 31 December 2008 decreased by 4 buses compared to the previous year. The tram stock was unchanged. The total vehicle stock at the end of 2008 was as follows: 144 buses with an average operational period of 12 years and 48 tramway cars with an average operational period of 25 years. In 2008 the following vehicle stock was scrapped: 14 buses including: 9 Jelcz M11 (biaxial), 4 Ikarus 280 (three axle), 1 Ikarus 412 (biaxial).
Based on a contract signed on 29 October 2007, 10 new Mercedes-Benz buses were delivered in March.
Based on the Czestochowa City Council resolution No 327/XXIX/2008, ticket prices were increased by 10% from 30 June 2008. A new ticket fare option was introduced – an e-purse single fare.
MPK repaired the tramway crossing at Niepodleglosci Avenue – new tarmac surface was laid and part of the pavement was renovated that year.
In 2009 the company provided public transport services on 34 day routes including: 26 urban bus routes, 8 suburban bus routes and 1 tramway line.
The vehicle stock on 31 December 2009 was as follows: 146 buses with an average operational period of 11 years and 48 tramway cars with an average operational period of 26 years.
Due to the commissioning of the new and repaired streets (Wroblewskiego, Kohna Canal, Strazacka) and new road layout on Krakowska Street, MPK bus route nr 12, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 31, 32, 34, 53, 57, 58, 59, 65, 67 and 68 timetables were changed. The main reasons being a change in travel time and synchronisation of the departure times on common section of the bus routes 12, 26, 27 and 32.
From 1 January 2009 new rules concerning entrusting to and evaluating the execution of provision of public passenger transport service by MPK Czestochowa Sp. z o.o., as outlined in Czestochowa Mayor Office Regulation No 1542/08 of 31 December 2008 on entrusting and evaluation of task execution according to memorandum of association, were introduced by the Company Owner. The changes introduced had to do with the requirement, Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007, repealing Council Regulations (EEC) Nos 1191/69 and 1107/70, coming into effect on 3 December 2009. The subject-matter of the new rules formulated in the Regulation No 1542/08 was a detailed definition of organisational, procedural, financial and legal conditions for the provision of public passanger transport service by the Company on behalf of the local authorities, entrusted to the company based on the memorandum of association. The company was obliged to carry out public transport services within cities and communes, with whom the City signed an inter-commune agreement, in a permanent bus and tram network at a frequency outlined in Appendix No 1. The company was obligated to carry out repairs and maintenance of the infrastructure consisting of tramway tracks, traction grid and cables, rectifier stations as well as keeping the bus and tram stops clean and in working order. The company was also obligated to issue, distribute and inspect tickets.
Bus route 23 was shut down.
In November 2009 the Silesia County Speaker awarded EU public transport grants. The integrated application form for the extension of tramway line (beneficiary – Czestochowa City Council) and purchase of tramway cars (beneficiary – MPK w Czestochowie Sp. z o.o.) were ranked as 1st and 2nd most important investments on the priority list. Within the Regional Operational Framework, 7.2 – Public Transport – the City of Czestochowa received 83 878 000 zl for building of the tramway line extension and MPK in Czestochowie received 43 893 000 zl for the purchase of tramway cars.
On 10 July MPK signed a contract with EVO - BUS Polska sp. z o.o for the purchase of 14 Mercedes-Benz buses. 14 low floor, new Mercedes-Benz buses, including 8 short and 6 articulated, Euro 5 Norm buses, were delivered in October 2009.
The company together with Czestochowa Police carried out “Show some class!Let others join the traffic” campaign that aimed at reminding car drivers about the obligation of giving the right of way to buses rejoining traffic at bus stops.
The process of standardisation of MPK bus colours started – eventually all buses would be red and white. The company also resigned from large format advertising on vehicle windows.
The 50th Anniversary of tram service in Czestochowa was one of the most important events that year. Anniversary schedule consisted of: MPK employee special intention mass, party at the depot, exposition of a historic tram – “Happy tram from the 50’s”, exposition of photo, souvenir and transport exhibits, learn to drive a tram classes for everyone. A limited edition of paper tickets were also printed for this occasion. MPK received an Honorary Golden Badge for the contribution to the Silesia region. Silver Badges were given to hounored company employees.
Single fare paper tickets, issued by MPK, promoting donation of 1% tax for charities and blood donor campaign, went on sale.
By damaging a bus – you raise the ticket fare. It was the motto of an “Antivandal” campaign that MPK and a weekly local newspaper “7 Dni” carried out together.
In connection with the 50th Anniversary of tram service in Czestochowa, photo and video competition - Tram Photo Day and 300 Seconds on the Tracks were organised
New “off-peak” timetables were introduced. Until then the trams travelled every 11 and 13 minutes, afterwards they travel every 10 and 12 minutes.
MPK’s Driver Training Centre started a series of training courses for drivers on raising the standards of service for disabled passengers.
On 1 June the company organised MPK Open Day for primary school children.
An excursion on historical Ikarus 280 (#288) was organised. The trip route included suburban areas where MPK operated the bus service up till 1991 – Biala, Kamyk, Kuznica Lechowa, Lubojenka, Rudniki, Konin and Mstow. Czestochowa dwellers beat the Guinness record that year. 332 people got on Ikarus bus. The bus rode 50 meters.
First time in the history of public transport in Czestochowa, car drivers used the public transport for free when travelling with their car registration certificate. The event was held as part of the Car Free Day.
CCTV cameras were installed on the night tram cars.