Turning of the first sod at the start of the construction of the new electric tramway system in 1908.
Reflecting strong and increasing local pressure for an electric tramway system, just before Christmas 1906 the SA Parliament created the Municipal Tramways Trust, an entirely new organization with a brief to establish and run an electric tramway system
within 10 miles (16Km) of the GPO.
The legislation specified that:
• The Trust be managed by a Board of eight persons. The government appointed two and the local governments in the areas serviced by the system. appointed six. Two of those
represented the Adelaide City Council.
• The MTT be independent of direct government control.
• The Government provided the capital.
• The Trust was expected to run at a profit with the constituent councils underwriting
any operating losses. (This led, in part, to the MTT’s downfall 50 years later).
The Board of the MTT met for the first time on 4th February 1907.
Within two years, the first route of the electric tram system, to Kensington,
opened on 9th March 1909. By the end of 1909, electric trams were working the inner lines to North Adelaide, Walkerville, Payneham, Maylands, Marryatville, Parkside, Unley and Hyde Park - and at the same time, the MTT continued to operate the remaining horse
trams routes, which it had taken over, retiring each horse tram service as the electric routes became operational.
It was a remarkable feat of organisation and expertise led by a visionary man. It signalled that this was an organisation that knew what
it was about and what was needed to run a complex operation for nearly 50 years – during which time the MTT had a dominant impact on Adelaide’s urban development, life, work and play.
Governments then, as now, were gravely
concerned about costs and the MTT was told its track laying could not exceed £12,000 per mile. The MTT’s own drive to contain costs was confounded when HM Customs doubled the import duty on some tram components (to £45,000). This was still
referred to in thinly veiled outrage in annual reports six years later.
"As pointed out in my last report, subsequent to the passing of the Tramways Act the schedules of the Customs Duties were revised, the result being that the duties paid to date
under the schedules exceed those that would have been paid under the old Schedules by no less than £45,000."
Annual Report 1911/12 p. 24.
The MTT was not above seeking budgetary improvements of its own. It made clear in its annual reports
it questioned why it should be made to bear the costs for the necessary alterations to the general telephone lines, electricity supply, water, sewer and gas lines, plus road works and bridge strengthening that the government and councils insisted the MTT should