As far as transit is concerned, Lisbon is the San Francisco of Europe.
Ok, you can nitpick about the methods of propulsion, cables versus juice, but with steep hills, outstanding urban panoramas and quirky twisting trackage in narrow streets and fully functional antique cars, Lisbon’s tram system has lots in common with San Francisco’s famous cable cars.
These cities have lots of parallels too, certainly in layout and appearance, and weather.
I made these photos in the Portuguese capital on a brilliant day in April.
There’s seemingly endless opportunity for photographs. But do you work with the shadows or in the shadows?
For the tourist, Lisbon’s trams are both transport and an attraction.
Back in 1996 a European friend said to me, ‘you ought to visit Lisbon, they’ve got some wonderful old trams there.’ Some 18 years later, I finally ticked off that box in my notebook. Better late, than not at all.
Lisbon is famous for its narrow gauge trams that crawl up narrow and steeply graded streets. This track work is amazing. It’s amazing that it was ever built, and even more so that some of the lines are still worked in 2014!
The old trams are of course a tourist attraction, but like San Francisco’s cable cars, these function as part of the transit system.
Visitors queue to board, much to the delight of local pickpockets. I was forewarned about light-fingered activities, so I took precautionary measures. And, also made a sport of spotting the picks. Not to point fingers, I saw nothing lifted, but I saw some suspicious characters in the queue (who didn’t seem to have any interest in riding a tram).
The quirky old cars are enhanced by the colorful tapestry that makes up Lisbon’s old city. Sunny skies were delivered as ordered.
Route number 15 is populated by modern LRV style cars, but passes through some interesting areas and runs parallel to an old heavy-rail commuter rail route.