The old adage that what goes round comes round is very evident when considering the use of electric trolley buses in inner cities to reduce pollution.
Many cities have reintroduced trams, others are hesitant due to the significant costs and disruption to city centres whilst a tram line is constructed. Yet this form of public transport could be one of the key answers to reduce pollution in city centres from engine exhaust.
The good old eclectic trolley buses had a huge advantage. They were electric powered, used no energy whilst waiting at traffic lights, at bus stops or stuck in traffic. The downside is the need to clutter streets withe overhead cable need to feed power to the buses – the same need as for trams.
The installation of a trolley bus network is infinitely smaller than that for a tram. Using dedicated bus lanes will assist the conversion and drop the point of use greenhouse gases to zero. Doncaster had a test track built with a state of the art trolley bus on trial for several years. This sophisticated version of the trolley bus was dual powered. It could revert to using its diesel engine if the route extended beyond the overhead cables.
The Doncaster experiment in the 1980’s was doomed not by technical difficulties, but that it coincided with the privatisation of bus routes. Who owned the track, the rolling stock and took the risk threw the trial into political stalemate. But maybe now is the time to have a fresh look. London trashed the bendy buses, but now is reconsidering. It bought a whole fleet of new Routemaster buses when perhaps sitting down to reflect on the long term future, and reviewing pollution free electric trolley buses as well as cars would have been a better and almost immediate solution. The UK bus builders could develop a new vehicle designed and manufactured in the UK and exported worldwide, for this is an International problem looking for a solution that may really be history repeating itself.