The Party Tram in action, Source: National Centre of Innovations and Digital Arts

Gallery: Sofia turned a tram into a rolling disco for a day

Gallery: Sofia turned a tram into a rolling disco for a day

The Party Tram featured live music and performance art, as well as a campaign against vandalism and hate speech in public transport

New York may have its subway and London may have its double-decker buses, but if there is one public transport option that captures the heart of the Bulgarian capital Sofia - it’s the tram.

Last Saturday, local authorities organised a party on one of the city’s trams. The initiative was framed as a campaign for reducing vandalism and hate speech in public transport while showcasing Sofia’s progress in terms of the improved quality of service.

The Party Tram, as the initiative was called, started off in the centre at 18:00 and drove around the city with a live DJ set, musicians and performance art until 20:15. The only thing people needed to be a part of the event was a valid travel document.

A stage for music, dance and contemporary performance

The initiative in Sofia’s tram was organised by the non-profit organisation National Centre for Innovation and Digital Art with the help of the local Urban Mobility Centre, the municipal company running the trams.

The aim of the initiative was to address the issue of vandalism and hate speech on public transport and hate symbols. This echoed a similar drive to remove hateful graffiti from the city streets, launched in May of last year by the municipality.

Additionally, the Party Tram was supposed to highlight the hard-won achievements in terms of quality of service in public transport. The event was directed by Atanas Lozanov – Nasix – while participating artists were united behind the message: Travel without destruction! Don’t hate, accept the new!

The tram – a staple of local transport

The history of public transport in the Bulgarian capital starts at the end of the 19th century with a horse-drawn omnibus, a mobility mode which was widespread at the time.

At the turn of the century, the city didn’t have electricity but in 1898, the local government signed a deal with French company Société des Grands Travaux de Marseille for street lights and an electric plant, and with a Belgian holding called Societé Anonyme des Tramways électriques de Sofia to construct the first lines.

The first electric tram line in the city was opened on 1 January 1901 and it connected the railway station to the city centre.  Until this day, no other Bulgarian city has ever had trams, making those vehicles a particular symbol of Sofia.

Additionally, through the 20th century, many urban centres have opted to remove their tram lines, in favour of a more car/bus-dependent environment. This has not been the case in Sofia, which still maintains a rich tram network - a vital part of local transport.



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