The Golden Arrow History

Stages of bus transport in Cape Town


On the 9th July 1861, an Act was passed that allowed for a company to be formed for the purpose of providing horse drawn tram services between Sea Point and Cape Town. The founding company in the GABS dynasty was the Cape Town & Green Point Tramway Company which began operating on the 1st April 1863. Major technological innovations that shaped the fledgling industry subsequent to this were the replacement of horse drawn trams with electric trams in 1894; the introduction of fuel powered motor buses in 1911 and trackless electric trams in 1934. During this period of innovation, mergers and acquisitions amongst competitors occurred. The most notable was the take-over in 1957 by the smaller Golden Arrow Bus Services owned by the Pasvolsky family (which at the time had 85 buses and 400 employees) of the bigger listed Cape Tramways Limited (which had 500 buses and 2000 employees)


Key historical eras


Historical events such as the influenza epidemic, the two World Wars, the promulgation of the apartheid laws, the resistance struggle against apartheid and the gruesome taxi wars also had a profound impact on the industry. The proliferation of bus piracy in the 1930’s was countered with the enactment of the first piece of regulatory legislation, the Motor Carrier Transportation Act which was the precursor to the present day National Transport Act.


Sectorial rivalry


During the pioneering years, tensions between the early bus operators and the S.A. Rail Company system, which was registered four years prior in 1857, was also a notable feature of the competitive operating environment. The advent of the taxi industry in the early 1980’s led to appalling levels of violence perpetrated by taxi interests against Golden Arrow’s buses and drivers and is considered to be one of the more gruesome epochs of the 150 year history.

Some images of Golden Arrow Bus Services since 1861

Click on the images to enlarge