The Prague Metro is a subway, underground public transportation network in Prague, Czech Republic. It is the fastest means of transportation around the city and serves about one and half million passengers a day, which makes it the sixth busiest metro system in Europe.
The metro is run by the Prague Public Transit Company Inc. (Dopravní podnik Praha or DP Praha) which manages all means of public transport around the city (the metro, tramways, buses, the funicular to Petřín Hill and the chairlift inside Prague Zoo). Since 1993, this system has been connected to commuter trains and buses and also to "park-and-ride" parking lots. Together they form a public transportation network reaching further from the city called Prague Integrated Transport (Pražská integrovaná doprava—PID). Whilst the large system is zonally priced, the metro is fully inside the central zone.
Many Prague Metro stations are quite large, with several entrances spaced relatively far apart. This can often lead to confusion for tourists, especially at the central hubs such as Můstek or Muzeum: it is not enough to merely get off at the right station; one must also choose the right way out to the surface, otherwise one can easily find oneself five or ten minutes' walking distance from the required destination. However, in general the stations are well signposted even for those unfamiliar with local language.
The Prague Metro system is laid-out as a triangle, with all three lines meeting in the center of the city at three interchange stations. Each interchange station has two halls, one hall for each line. The depth of the stations (and the connecting lines) varies considerably. The deepest station is Náměstí Míru, located 52 meters under the ground. Parts of the tracks in the city center were mostly bored using the tunneling shield. Outer parts were dug by the cut-and-cover method and the stations are only a few meters under the surface. The B line partly runs in a glassed-in tunnel above the ground.
Most stations have a single platform in the center of the station hall (tunnel) serving both directions. The sub-surface stations have a straight ceiling sometimes supported by columns. The deep-level stations are larger tunnels with the track tunnels on each side. The walls of many stations are decorated using colored aluminium panels, each station having its own color.
|A||Line A (Linka A)||1978||11.0 km||13|
|B||Line B (Linka B)||1985||25.6 km||24|
|C||Line C (Linka C)||1974||22.7 km||20|
|Total:||59.3km||57 (see above)|
The Prague Metro is an open ticket system. Passengers must buy and validate a ticket before entering the metro platform. There are uniformed ticket inspectors who have the right to check the validity of the ticket at any time within the compulsory ticket area.
The tickets are the same for all means of transport in Prague (excluding commuter trains for single tickets). The basic single ticket (the transfer variant) costs 26 CZK (as of 1 January 2008) and allows a 75-minute ride (90 minutes during evenings, weekends and state holidays). The non-transferable ticket (costing 18 CZK) is valid for a distance of five metro stations (not including the station of validation) allowing changes between lines A, B and C, but no longer than 30 minutes in total. Since December 2007 SMS purchase for the basic single transfer ticket is possible by sending DPT to 902 06 26 (Czech operators only).
Short-term tourist passes are available for periods of 24 hours (100 CZK), 3 days (330 CZK) and 5 days (500 CZK).
In addition, longer-term season tickets can be bought (photo ID required) for periods of one month (550 CZK), three months (1480 CZK) or the annual pass (4750 CZK).
Although the Prague Metro system is relatively new, ideas to build some kind of underground transport in the city reach far into its history. The first proposal to build a sub-surface railway was made by Ladislav Rott in 1898. He encouraged the city council to take the advantage of the fact that parts of the central city were already being dug up for sewer work. Rott wanted them to start digging tunnels for the railway at the same time. However, the plan was denied by the city authorities. Another proposal in 1926, by Bohumil Belada and Vladimír List, was the first to use the term "Metro", and though it was not accepted either, it served as an impulse for moving towards a real solution of the rapidly developing transport in Prague. In the 1930s and 1940s, intensive projection and planning works were being held, taking into account two possible solutions: an underground tramway (regular rolling stock going under ground in the city center, nowadays described as a "pre-metro") and a "true" metro having its own independent system of railways. After World War II, all work was stopped due to the poor economic situation of the country, although the three lines, A, B and C, had been almost fully projected.
In the early 1960s the concept of the sub-surface tramway was finally accepted and on 9 August 1967 the actual building of the first station (Hlavní nádraží) started. However, at the same year, a substantial change in the concept came, as the government, under the influence of Soviet advisers, decided to build a "true" metro system instead of an underground tramway. Thus, during the first years, the construction continued while the whole project was conceptually transformed. The regular service of the first section of line C began operating on 9 May 1974 between Sokolovská (now Florenc) and Kačerov stations. Building continued quite rapidly after that. In 1978 the first section of line A was opened and, finally, line B opened in 1985, thus forming the triangle with three crossing points. Since then, the tracks have been extended further from the center. Line B was extended from Nové Butovice to Zličín in 1994 and from Českomoravská to Černý Most in 1998. The Kolbenova and Hloubětín stations were opened in 2001.
On 22 February 1990, 14 stations with names reflecting Communist ideology were changed to be politically neutral. Leninova station, which contained a giant bust of Lenin before the Velvet Revolution, was renamed Dejvická after a nearby street and surrounding neighbourhood.
In the meantime, the old Russian trains are slowly wearing out and are being refurbished or replaced. The refurbished trains are projected to serve for another 15 years. The renewal of the rolling stock should be completed by 2007.
In August 2002, the metro suffered disastrous flooding that struck parts of Bohemia and other areas in Central Europe (see 2002 European flood). 19 stations were flooded, causing a partial collapse of the transport system in Prague; the damage to the metro has been estimated at approximately 7 billion CZK (over $200 million). The affected sections of the metro stayed out of service for several months; the last station (Křižíkova, located in the most-damaged area - Karlín) reopened in March 2003. Small gold plates have been placed at some stations to show the highest water level of the flood.
A northern extension of line C was opened on 26 June 2004, with two more stations, Kobylisy and Ládví. Notable is the way that the new tunnels were built under the Vltava river. A unique "ejecting-tunnels" technology had been chosen to underpass the river. First, a trench was excavated in the riverbed and the tunnels had been concreted in the dry docks on the riverbank. Then the docks were flooded, and the afloat tunnels were moved as a rigid complex to their final position, sunk, anchored and covered.
Line A was recently extended farther to the east. On 26 May 2006, a new terminus, Depo Hostivař, opened. The station was constructed in the building of an existing railway depot. The extension is the first segment of the system that has been built above ground and is not covered by a tunnel.
The escalator at Náměstí Míru station in Vinohrady is about 100 metres long and, according to its builder, is the longest escalator in Europe. It takes about two and a half minutes to ascend or descend the elevator if you stand still.
Anděl station was known as Moskevská (Moscow Station) until 1990. It opened on the same day in 1985 as the Prazhskaya (Prague) station on the Moscow Metro. It contains several pieces of propaganda art promoting Soviet-Czechoslovak friendship. Anděl station, like the Smíchov train station, contains some of the best-preserved examples of Communist-era propaganda art remaining in Prague.
During the communist period rumors circulated that large "survival chambers" were being built for high official of the government in the case of a nuclear attack. After the fall of communism such areas were shown indeed to exist, but not on the scale envisioned nor fitted out in luxury.
There are further plans to build a completely new line, the D (or blue) line, after the completion of the line C extension. Line D would connect the city center to the southern parts of the city and go from Hlavní nádraží (the main train station) through the Nusle quarter down to the suburban neighbourhoods of Krč, Libuš and Písnice (see the unofficial fan map) in the south. If the project goes well, the first sections of the line will commence operation around 2013. A line E has also been proposed, but not much is sure about it yet.
Eventually, line A will be extended at both ends, too. There are already official plans to extend the northwest part of the track further to Petřiny, Motol and Bílá hora. It should continue further northwest, to Dědina (a big urban settlement) and all the way to Ruzyně International Airport.