Brisbane Tramways The Last Decade (BOOK)
As Sunday, April 13, 1969 drew to a close the last trams ran in the streets of Brisbane, after serving the Queensland capital for more than eighty years.
The last decade of Brisbane's trams coincided with a time of major change within the city. A new skyline was emerging to overshadow the imposing structure of the City Hall clock tower and new suburbs were developing beyond the tram termini. Steam engines were being replaced on the suburban railway system and regional shopping centres were built to accommodate the expansion of the city.
The age of the private motorist had gathered considerable momentum adding to the transport problems of the city and reducing the demands upon public transport. For better or for worse Brisbane, as Australia's third city, had discarded the image, considered by many, of a large country town, and deservedly became a modern expanding city with a bright future. These changes were not without their disadvantages as traffic congestion, urban sprawl and less frequent one-man operated bus services have
left the citycentre less accessible to many people than in tramway days.
For many years the tramway system was identified by its distinctive silver, and subsequently light grey, painted cars; many of which had open sided centre compartments and drop down driver's windscreens, concessions to the warm sub-tropical climate of the city. The "foreign legion" style caps, worn until the latter years of the system by the generally courteous and friendly crews, were also unique to Brisbane. Residents and visitors alike appreciated the frequent and reliable services provided by the trams which in turn reflected the friendly lifestyle of the city they served.
Gone forever are the days when "dreadnought" and "drop-centre" trams combined with the modern four-motor (FM) cars to move heavy peak hour concentrations of city workers; when teenagers jumped aboard trams in the evenings and at weekends to reach the city and entertainment centres and when on weekdays suburban housewives joined the cars to converge on the city or the nearby busy centres of Fortitude Valley ("The Valley") and Woolloongabba ("The Gabba"). This sustained patronage justified the ten minute daytime memory timetables on weekdays which in turn contributed to one of the highest levels of public transport usage in Australia at that time.
Ironically there is little doubt that had the tramway system survived to any large extent for a further five years, subsequent developments involving environmental issues, the energy crisis and the tide of public opinion already in evidence at the time of closure, should have ensured its retention. This is supported by recent progress in Melbourne and overseas where modern trams and light rail systems are emerging as a practical and economical answer to many of the transport problems in cities the size of Brisbane. Sadly, such awakening came too late for Brisbane and its tramway system will go down in transport history as one of the last comparatively modern networks of its size and style to be completely abandoned in favour of diesel bus operation.
Sixty pages of photographs and text record the operations of the Brisbane tramway system during its last decade. This book is presented as a tribute to the city of Brisbane and its trams during that period.
60 Pages, Colour Cover & Black & White text/photographs