Public transport in Helsinki dates back to the late 19th century. Horse-drawn trams were introduced in 1891, but from the very start decision-makers and experts conducted a lively discussion concerning electrification. The decision to electrify the tram network was made at the end of the decade. The project was carried out rapidly and electric tram services began on 4 September 1900. The project required the laying of tracks and the construction of overhead lines and a power station as well as the procuring of new trams.
The past century has included both good and bad times. The period between the world wars was the golden age of trams in Helsinki. The volume of passengers continued to climb after the Second World War, but the spread of private cars posed a major threat to tram services. The existence of tram services was in the balance in the late 1960s, when Helsinki considered following the example of Stockholm and phasing out trams. Fortunately the decision was made to continue tram services at least until the end of the century.
At the beginning of the new millennium the future appears bright. The City Council has taken a favourable attitude towards tram services for the past couple of decades. A few years ago it reaffirmed its intention to keep tram services the main form of public transport in the inner city. Passenger statistics in recent years show that trams’ popularity has revived and deepened.