Chronicle of a journey
History of Barcelona's bus network
Welcome on board!We will be taking a 100-year journey from the beginning of the Barcelona bus network, with Pepa, Laia and Oriol accompanying us to the main stops of their lives.
The X1 line is the first XPRESBus service, created in 2021. Boasting an intermodal vocation, it offers an efficient connection between metropolitan municipalities and Barcelona’s centre, using low- or zero-emissions vehicles.
The current bus fleet includes every tool for ensuring accessibility, such as access ramps and ground floors.
Current stage: 1906-1921
Background. La Catalana’s pioneers and the triumph of the tram
Barcelona was the first city in the Spanish State to have a bus service, in 1906 to complement its consolidated tram network.
After an excursion to Collserola, the opening celebrations for the first line of omnibus were held in one of the most luxurious and sumptuous restaurants in Barcelona, the Maison Dorée.
Current stage: 1922-1928
The return of buses and network principles
A Tilling Stevens single-decker bus, popularly known as ‘Burra,’ shared the transport service with a tram in Plaça Catalunya.
The Lutxana bus depot, in Poblenou, had been the bus manufacture and storage workshop since 1924.
Current stage: 1929-1930
The euphoric times of the Barcelona International Exposition (on Montjuïc)
The International Exposition of 1929 played host to 29 nations on the themes of industry, art and sport. It drew in 5.8 million visitors.
The “Gran circuito de lujo” [Great luxury circuit] was one of the two tourist route lines in service during the Exhibition.
Current stage: 1931-1939
Strikes, conflicts, war and collectivisation
During the Black Biennium and the Civil War, many buses were requisitioned for military and police operations. The conflict would speed up the deteriorating process.
Most of the collective factories operated well during the war and maintained a good level of productivity. However, as the war progressed, scarcity of resources would start to become apparent.
Current stage: 1940-1956
Postwar and autarchy
After the Civil War, the need for reconstructing essential transport services was reflected in the conversion of buses into trolleybuses, owing to the lack of fuel, and their adaptation to the tramway power network.
Vehicles had to be imported from abroad, because of ravages caused by the war and the unreliability of recovered buses. Despite the autarchy imposed under Francoism, the authorities allowed the ACLO model to be imported from England from 1948 onwards.
Current stage: 1957-1973
“Developmentalism” and urban-transport motorisation
Developing transport infrastructures was a priority requirement for meeting the economic and demographic growth of the 1960s.
The first articulated bus model arrived in Barcelona in 1964. It came from the Spanish company ENASA, which became the sole supplier for Barcelona’s public transport company.
Current stage: 1974-1985
Resident movements and neighbourhood network connections
Resident mobilisation, as a means to demanding better public transport connections, led to bus hijackings, as in the case of a line 47 bus.
The Pegaso 6038 models were known as the ‘Barcelona Model,’ after the improvements introduced in response to TB technical team’s demands. Their bodywork was more modern and they provided greater lighting and comfort.
Current stage: 1986-2000
Transformation and accessibility following the Olympic Games
The Olympic Games were held between 25 July and 9 August 1992. The city was transformed so it could play host to them and participation from volunteers was a complete success. Up to 10.55 million users climbed aboard buses during the Olympics.
169 countries took part in the Olympics, with almost 10 thousand participants. 2,304 drivers were needed to meet the demand.
The Paralympic Games represented a watershed in the history of the network, accelerating the path to accessibility that had already started several years earlier. The shuttle bus service connecting the city to the Olympic Stadium transported 498 passengers with wheelchairs.
Current stage: 2001-2011
A more accessible and sustainable network