João Pessoa / Itabaiana



João Pessoa

Paraíba is the name of several rivers and towns in Brazil and the capital of the state of Paraíba, formerly called Parahyba do Norte, was renamed João Pessoa in 1930. Though farther from Africa than Natal, since it is further south, João Pessoa is actually the easternmost city in the Western Hemisphere and a point jutting out into the Atlantic is occupied today by a spectacular donut-shaped luxury hotel. João Pessoa is an interesting place, with twisting, narrow streets, nice parks and a cathedral sitting on top of a hill. Population was 20,000 in 1910, is 200,000 today.

The Ferro Carril Parahybana, organized (and possibly owned) by the German firm of Orenstein & Koppel, inaugurated the first horsecar line, between the railroad station and Praça Vidal Negreiros, on 6 June 1896. An extension was soon built to Tambiá and on 25 September 1906 the tramway was sold to the state. A month later, on 21 October, the new Carris de Ferro de Parahyba opened a steam tramway, using small open coaches and locomotives from Rogers in the U.S., from Tambiá to the beach at Tambaú. Four horses were required to pull trams up the steep hill on Avenida Guedes Pereira and in 1908 the company purchased two gasoline cars from Leyland/United Electric in England. These did not begin operation, however, until after all tram operations had been taken over by the Empreza de Tracção, Luz e Força on 10 December 1910.

Despite the name, João Pessoa did not see electricity for several more years. The gas trams went into operation on 15 February 1911 and electric street lights finally arrived in 1912. A Siemens-Schuckertwerke engineer named Paul Bollfrass tested the first electric tram on 24 January 1914 and revenue service, from Varadouro to Tambiá, was formally inaugurated on 19 February 1914. Origin of the seven 7-bench electric cars, numbered 3 to 9, is unknown. They resemble no others in Brazil and it seems possible that they were built by Orenstein & Koppel, which supplied the horsecars only a few years earlier.

In 1919 electric cars replaced the steam trams to Tambaú and the gasoline trams were demotorized and used as trailers. Buses arrived in 1927, but in 1934 a new circular tram line was built through the suburb of Jaguaribe. Several new double-truck, 14-bench trams - of unknown origin - were placed in service on the Tambaú route in 1938 and the line on Avenida Cruz das Armas reached Oitizeiro in 1946. At this time the tram system reached its peak of ten passenger motor cars, three passenger trailers and two freight cars on 22 km of meter-gauge track. A new mayor initiated a street-paving program and closed the tram system in 1958.

Like many cities in Brazil, João Pessoa announced a trolleybus program in the late 1970s, but nothing has come of it.




The only other tram system in the state operated in the small town of Itabaiana, near the Pernambuco border, between 1914 and 1929. A 3 km animal-powered line, using cars second-hand from Recife, ran between the Great Western Railway station and the central square. It was never electrified.