Public Transit Company goes back to the drawing board with Porsche's designs

In early 2006 the Prague Public Transit Company (Dopravni Podnik) added 12 slinky new trams designed by Porsche to its fleet. Though Czech stalwart Skoda still made the trams in its Pilsen factory, this was the first time it had handed over the design to somebody else. As such, there was a great deal of anticipation. But since their introduction the trams have created a mixed reaction here in Prague, and now the Public Transit Company is to make changes to the 12 existing trams. Jan Svoboda is a spokesperson for the Public Transit Company, he explains the sort of complaints the company have received:

"What I know is that it is basically about the space, and the way that it is divided up inside the tram. And the seating, which is different from the previous style of trams. It is a different style of seating, which some passengers are finding less comfortable than in the previous types of trams."

Prague commuters have also complained about the heat inside the trams, the 'whistling' sound the tram is purported to make, and the fact that it has fewer doors than its predecessors.

In a somewhat less than conclusive poll carried out today by me in Prague transport hub, Namesti Miru, reaction to the new trams was mixed. It seemed to fall into two camps, with the older generation disliking the new trams, and younger people singing the Porsche's praises:

"I think they are great, I like them, because they are nice, a nice design, you know. I've only been in one once, but I like it."

"They are definitely practical for people in wheelchairs, they have low floors. Otherwise, I don't know, they suit me just fine, so I say: good!"

"I don't like them very much. It just looks like they've grafted two spiky bits onto the ends of a normal tram. They don't really have anything to do with the actual vehicle. That's what I think, at least."

"I don't like them. They are too hot inside and you can't breathe. I don't like them at all."

Passengers may find the Skoda 14T trams in question stuffy, but not the drivers. Tram drivers have welcomed the spacious, air-conditioned, cabins built into the new trams. The 14T has also received praise for its safety. Skoda says it is the safest tram it has ever built.

But to abate disgruntled commuters, the Prague Public Transit Company has decided to make a few changes to the interior of the trams, at least. Again, here's Jan Svoboda:

Škoda 14T,  photo: Kristýna Maková
"Right now, we are in close talks with Skoda Transportation about changing the inside to of the tram to make it more effective and passenger-oriented. But I personally am very happy with the new trams, because they look really nice. We shouldn't forget that right now these trams are brand new. There are a lot of things that might be, and will be, changed because they are new. They just have to be adjusted according to people's needs, and I think they are working very well."

If you want to ride on this style-icon in its current form, you better do so quickly, because the trams are soon to be revamped.