In design terms,
the Trolleybus is clearly the most elegant public service vehicle available.
Infrastructure features -
Much of the success of the re-introduction of Trolleybuses to London will be due to the attention to detail in making the vehicles easily accessible for all, attractive internally with communication and media facilities, and with refreshment availability.|
Promoting quiet, clean urban transport using Overhead Electric, Zero Emission Trolleybuses -
email The Electric Tbus Group
|- exclusive bus lanes|
|transponder operated traffic lights|
|real time passenger information|
|high quality passenger amentities|
|limited stop routes|
|park or kiss-and-ride facilities|
|240mm 'Kassel' raised kerbs|
|video line guidance at stops|
| or flat, universal fares
Hansard 3 May 2000 : Lord Stoddart of Swindon:
There is electricity. In my view, that is undoubtedly the most environmentally-friendly fuel. We have not yet reached the stage when electricity can be used extensively for cars, but there are certainly possibilities for urban public transport, as has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont.
I want to concentrate my remarks on public transport. . . . I came to realise that the trolleybus was a fine vehicle for urban stage carriage bus services. They are clean, fumeless, quiet, smooth riding and they have superb acceleration which is needed for stage carriage work and an efficient braking capability. Although they are silent, if someone steps out in front of a trolleybus, the driver can brake quickly because they have reactive brakes. They are superb vehicles. They have a long life and low maintenance costs.
With such great advantages people may ask why they were discontinued. In my view, the answer is that there was enormous pressure from the oil lobby, although other factors such as lack of flexibility and frequent bunching leading to bad timekeeping, were cited as major reasons. Many of the reasons given were spurious and are certainly now capable of remedy through the application of new technology which could facilitate overtaking and better batteries that would enable trolleybuses to run off-wire for reasonable distances. In my view, technically there is no barrier to the reintroduction of the trolleybus.
As to running costs, even when oil prices were low--the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, pointed out that they are now sky high even without tax--the operating costs of trolleybuses were only marginally higher than those for diesel buses. With oil prices high and electricity prices lower in real terms, it is likely that costs per mile would now be in favour of trolleybuses. It may be said that support for the trolleybus is backward looking. However, I must point out that although we, in this country, may have forgotten the trolleybus--some people under 30 have never seen one--in many countries they are an integral and an important part of the public transport system. In Europe and in many other parts of the world, the trolleybus is an essential and an integral part of their stage carriage services in towns and cities.
If many other countries operate them successfully, is it not time that we, in Britain, re-examined our attitude to them? Therefore, my plea to the Government is that they should finance research and development into electric vehicles and especially into a possible new role for the trolleybus in our public transport infrastructure. By that I mean assistance with re-installing the necessary overhead infrastructure and an accelerated change-over from diesel buses to trolleybuses or other environmentally-friendly vehicles. I believe this matter is urgent. We need to deal with the problems of motor vehicle exhaust urgently.
As the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, pointed out, there are other advantages. We would have to manufacture new trolleybuses which would create an opportunity for a new industry to be formed at a time when some industries in the automotive sector are closing.
I hope that my noble friend Lord Whitty will be able to give some encouragement to all noble Lords who have spoken and that the Government will listen to what has been said and will treat this problem as a matter of urgency.