By the 1950s, however, trams were seen as old fashioned and were gradually phased out to create more room for buses and cars. The last tram journey in London for three decades took place between Woolwich and New Cross on 6 July 1952.
By the mid-1980s motorised traffic had increased sharply in central Croydon. London Regional Transport (one of TfL's predecessor organisations) carried out a study to consider whether the reintroduction of trams could help to reduce traffic volumes, and also provide better links to the poorly connected New Addington area.
A bill put to Parliament in 1991 received Royal Assent on 21 July 1994. Following a competitive tender, consortium Tramtrack Croydon Limited (TCL) was awarded a 99-year concession to build and run the system in 1996.
The Tram system opened in 2000. As well as on street running, it made use of a number of disused railway alignments. Part of the line between Wimbledon and Croydon actually follows the route of the Surrey Iron Railway which first opened in 1803 with horse drawn trains, some 22 years before the much more famous Stockton to Darlington Railway.
In June 2008, TfL bought out TCL, and set about refurbishing trams, track, and tram stops, which had received little investment since the system opened. In June 2012, six new trams were introduced, enabling services in central Croydon to be increased from eight to twelve trams an hour, and allowing a new route from Therapia Lane to Elmers End.
In April 2016, services between Wimbledon and Croydon increased from eight to 12 trams per hour, following the completion of works to build an additional tram platform at Wimbledon station.