Today in Transportation History – 1901: Tenerife Gets Electric Tram Service

The first electric tram (streetcar) service on Tenerife – the largest and most heavily populated of the seven Canary Islands — was inaugurated. (The Canary Islands, an Atlantic archipelago located approximately 60 miles west of the African coast, was made a Spanish province in 1821 and would become an autonomous region of Spain in 1982.)

The tram system, which was designed by Spanish engineer and army officer Julio Cervera Baviera, stretched about six miles northwestward between the major cities of Santa Cruz (the capital of Tenerife and at the time also the sole capital of the entire Canary Islands) and La Laguna within the northeastern section of the island. The system’s electric trams replaced horse-drawn omnibuses as the means of public transit between these cities.  In 1904, the tram system was extended about six miles west of La Laguna to the town (now city) of Tacoronte.

Over the next several decades, the trams served as a key transportation link on Tenerife. As the result of financial difficulties and such other factors as increased competition from automobiles and buses, however, the system ceased operations altogether in 1951. In 2007, a new tram service was launched between Santa Cruz and La Laguna. This service remains in place today as the only tram system in the Canary Islands.

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