Krakow says farewell to Ikarus buses, local transport institution

Krakow said farewell last week to the last of the famous Ikarus buses on the streets of the city. One of the model 280 articulated vehicles of the Hungarian company made its last run on the 179 line in Kurdwanow, ending the 26-year Ikarus era in Krakow.

The Ikarus company was founded in 1895 in Budapest by blacksmith Imre Uhri. The company enjoyed success and constructed mainly cars until the 1930s when buses became its specialty.

After World War II, Ikarus became a major supplier for public transportation systems in Communist bloc countries. Buses built in Hungary were seen, and in some cases still are, in Germany, the former Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union as well as China and Cuba.

In Krakow Ikarus buses began service on October 21, 1981. Soon they dominated pulic transportation in the city. In 1986 there were 429 of them on the streets of the former Polish capital.

In recent years the word Ikarus might have been associated mostly with bus problems – leaking roofs and a particular rasp of its gearbox. This forced the MPK (City Communication Company) to buy new buses to replace them. Now the MPK uses buses produced mostly by Polish manufacturer Jelcz (more than 200) and Swedish company Scania (more than 130). Vehicles by Austosan, Solaris (both from Poland), Man and Neoplan (both from Germany) are fewer in numbers but can be seen on the streets of Krakow.

Krakow is the first major city in Poland to have no Ikarus bus on a scheduled route. According to the MPK they still will be used to transport supporters after football matches.

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