In Memory of Kiev Trams + Photo Gallery of Trams and Trolleybuses:: Photo Galleries:: Trolleybuses:: MTB-82: "I get on the blue trolley bus on the run..."


Part 1 (1–105)

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When I'm in trouble and totally done
and when all my hope I abandon
I get on the blue trolley bus on the run,
the last one,
at random.
Bulat Okudzhava (translated from Russian by Alec Vagapov)

For many of us from the older generation, the MTB-82 was the blue trolleybus that they remember so well — a lyrical image of the bygone times. It was indeed the predominant Soviet trolleybus model of its time, having appeared right after World War II and lasted throughout the 1950s and much of the 1960s, before getting replaced with the more modern ZiU's and the Czech Skodas. There were three siblings: the MTV-82 tram, the MTB-82 trolleybus (the '82' is the code number of the Tushino Factory in Moscow, where there models were initially produced), and the ZiS-154 bus. All of them featured the same body design, adopted from the American 1940 General Motors coach.

In Kiev, the MTBs made their debut on 29 April 1947. Pretty soon, they became the only type of trolleybus rolling stock in the city — a status that only the ubiquitous Skoda 9Tr's would achieve a quarter of a century later. They were also the first type of trolleybuses ever to be coupled into trainsets, a practice in which Kiev took an early lead. However, at the end of the 1950s their monopoly ended, and as the year 1960 marked the beginning of the era of Czech trolleybuses, the share of the MTBs began to drop steadily. Eventually, they were all transferred to Depot No. 2 (open in 1961) and thus concentrated on the routes running through the western parts of the city. The last ones left the streets in 1974; one vehicle, No. 50, was preserved and ran on sightseeing trips until the late 1980s. It still exists, but is out of service as of this writing.

3Barely two weeks after its debut, a brand-new, shiny MTB is cruising past the Opera Theatre and down Ulitsa Lenina towards Ploschad Stalina. People can still cross the street pretty much at will...
[State Photo Archive of Ukraine, 15.05.1947]
5The coupling mechanism must have been the photographer's object here. The spot is likely Ulitsa Scherbakova, where route 5 ran at the time and runs to this day. Behind the trolleybuses one can see an old Ikarus-180 passing by.
[Aare Olander collection]
10Krasnoarmeyskaya, most probably near the present Metro Respublikansky Stadion, heading south. The inscription in the background translates as Military Sewing Shop.
[Aare Olander collection]
14Passing under Pechersky Most on the run along Avtostrada (nowadays Bulvar Druzhby Narodov). This is route 10, which used to connect Vokzal with Navodnitsky Most (bridge); the latter was in the same spot where the Paton Bridge is today.
[Aare Olander collection, 21.12.1951]
28Route 15 along Vladimirskaya. A few years earlier, trams ran here, but the tracks have been removed and the street repaved. The trolleybus is just about to cross Lenina (one can also see the pair of wires used for a right turn into that street, in a gap between the trees on the left).
[Aare Olander collection, 06.1963]
35Near the old western terminus of route 5. The trolleybus is about to start its trip towards downtown.
[Aare Olander collection]
37A pretty standard location, looking down Ulitsa Lenina towards Kreschatik. The building under construction is the apartment house whose ground floor is the Druzhba (Friendship) cinema. Two more MTBs are visible further down the street.
[Aare Olander collection, 18.10.1954]
39Kreschatik, at the present day Independence Square. Again, MTBs are abundant: five of them have made it into this picture, taken at the spot where almost all trolleybus routes of the time ran. Most of the cars are the postwar Pobedas.
[Aare Olander collection, 1956]
45Going down Bulvar Shevchenko, from Vokzal to Most Patona on route 10, and crossing the tram tracks on Vladimirskaya. The date is therefore prior to 1960, when those tracks were lifted. On the right, a Pobeda is overtaking the trolleybus.
[Aare Olander collection]
49The turning loop at Ploschad III Internatsionala (Evropeyskaya), which was the terminus of many routes at the time. Nowadays, no trolleybuses run here at all! The differently-aligned cobblestones in the foreground mark the former path of the tram tracks, which were here up until 1962. A 9Tr, most probably on route 20, is on the right.
[Aare Olander collection, 1968]
50This is the only surviving representative of the once-huge MTB-82 fleet (its former fleet number was actually 90). It is coming down Krasnoarmeyskaya and crossing the former tram tracks on Saksaganskogo, followed by specimen from the new generation: a 9Tr+9Tr train and a 14Tr. The street sign on the right announces a "green wave" on this street, at a speed of 50 km/h.
[Aare Olander collection, 05.08.1987]
55Most probably at the trolleybus Depot No. 1.
[Kiev Electric Transportation Museum, 1962]
57Apparently on Bulvar Shevchenko, serving route 5, which at that time ran from Ploschad Tolstogo to Polevaya.
[State Photo Archive of Ukraine, 1950's]
58This is route 4 on Bolshaya Zhitomirskaya. The trolleybus line was built here shortly after the war, replacing the tram route under the same number. Presently, trolleybus routes 16 and 18 run here.
[Aare Olander collection, 1950]
66Bessarabskaya Ploschad, with the building of the market by the same name on the left, behind the trolleybuses. The vehicle closer to us is most probably on route 5, having left its terminus at Ploschad Tolstogo and now turning left into Bulvar Shevchenko for its run towards the western suburbs.
[Aare Olander collection]
77Another quite traditional view, from Bessarabskaya Ploschad, looking down Kreschatik. Cranes seen in the background tell us that the job of restoring Kiev's main thoroughfare after many of its buildings were blown up by the Soviet secret police in 1941, when the Germans occupied the city, is still underway.
[Aare Olander collection, 02.11.1953]
78The Opera again. The MTB is on the new route 2, running from Ploschad Bogdana Khmelnitskogo towards Vokzal, while the 9Tr on the right is likely on route 12, running straight along Vladimirskaya.
[Aare Olander collection]
81Kreschatik again, this time closer to its northern end, near the intersection with Proreznaya. Construction is in progress. In the far background on the left is the skeleton of the so-called Ginzburg house, the highest building of prewar Kiev.
[State Photo Archive of Ukraine, 09.07.1950]
83Behind the trolleybus is the building of the Kiev Conservatory of Music, at the corner of Kreschatik and Karla Marxa (nowadays Gorodetskogo). The day is likely a Soviet holiday, or an eve thereof, as witnessed by the huge portrain of Mr Lenin hung from a building, as well as the Soviet state emblem.
[Aare Olander collection, 1968]
87Coming down Bulvar Shevchenko and entering Ploschad Pobedy. The latter look much more spacious than today: neither the Ukraina department store (which would be near the left edge of the picture) nor the Lybed Hotel skyscraper are here — and of course, the number of cars is nothing remotely similar to what would have made it into the picture today...
[Aare Olander collection, 1961]
89Route 4, going up Mikhailovskaya on its ascent from Ploschad Kalinina towards Sovetskaya Ploschad.
[Aare Olander collection, 10.1959]
90The turning loop of route 15 (which replaced the tram) on Ploschad Bogdana Khmelnitskogo. The monument to Khmelnitsky as well as the domes of the St Sophia are among the landmarks of this beautiful square.
[Kiev Electric Transportation Museum]
92Inside the trolleybus depot (the only one at the time, nowadays Depot No. 1, which has been relocated from its original site near Zavod Dzherzhinskogo into the residential area of Teremki).
[Aare Olander collection, 11.02.1954]
101Going down Bulvar Shevchenko, crossing the tram tracks on Vladimirskaya. The two-story house in the background has been since replaced with a Ukrainian Academy of Sciences office building.
[Aare Olander collection]
103On Kreschatik, just next to Ploschad Stalina (Evropeyskaya). The trolleybus is either laying over, or just about to receive passengers and to begin its run south.
[Aare Olander collection, 1959]

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© Alexander Chernov, Stefan Mashkevich, Aare Olander, Alexander Filippov, and authors of photos, 2008–2010
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Last updated 31 March 2008