Promoting trolleybuses as the future of urban transport

A pan-European project has been raising awareness of the potential of trolleybuses as a green and economical form of transport for cities and regions in Central Europe.

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Modern trolleybuses have the potential to provide smart, green urban transport Modern trolleybuses have the potential to provide smart, green urban transport

Trolleybuses generate no air pollution, run quietly and are cost-effective. Although there are 40 000 currently in operation around the world including in many Central European countries, they have fallen in popularity in recent years. Despite this decline, trolleybuses have the potential to play a key role in the city transport systems of tomorrow as part of the move away from fossil fuels to electric-powered vehicles. However, technical and environmental challenges need to be overcome first, and a new image created for this versatile form of transport for municipal authorities and the general public.

The three-year project, “TROLLEY– Promoting Electric Public Transport”, aimed to build on the knowledge of trolleybus systems that exists in Central Europe to encourage their modernisation and to promote their many advantages to other cities around Europe.

Building a new, green image

The project brought together nine European partners working in the field of electric public transport, from six countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Poland).

Joint transport feasibility studies were carried out with the aim of making trolleybuses more energy-efficient or enabling them to operate faster in urban areas, for example. The partners also developed Europe's first Trolley-Battery-Hybrid Bus. Rolled out in Eberswalde, Germany in August 2012, the vehicle can receive power via the catenary (overhead lines) or a lithium-ion battery.

Initiatives also took place to promote the benefits of trolleybus systems including an information campaign entitled "ebus: the smart way" plus an annual European Trolleybus Day (ETD). Held during Mobility Week, ETDs attract thousands of visitors to partner cities such as Salzburg, Brno, Eberswalde, Gdynia, Parma, Leipzig and Szeged.

Sharing know-how and tools

The project, which came to an end in March 2013, leaves as its main legacy documentation that shares the expertise and know-how developed during its three-year life cycle. These include three e-learning modules (on trolleybus basics, energy storage and take-up of trolleybus systems), a reference guide on shared trolleybus-tram network use, and a take-up guide on diesel bus replacement. All are available in a Central European trolleybus knowledge centre, an information hub on trolleybuses with contacts to a pool of experts and a library of resources on trolleybus systems, also established thanks to the project.

The project focused on the many positives of trolleybuses including their environmental friendliness, which is a key concern when planning tomorrow's urban transport systems. With traffic accounting for 40 % of pollution in the city of Salzburg, Alexandra Weiss of project leader Salzburg AG for Energy, Transportation and Telecommunication is convinced of the need for projects like TROLLEY to "provide sustainable impetus to go from fossil-powered transport to electric public mobility."

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “TROLLEY – Promoting Electric Public Transport” is EUR 4 187 746, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 3 274 112 through priority 2, “Improving accessibility of and within Central Europe” of the “Central Europe” Territorial Cooperation Programme for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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