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Tbus Frequently Asked Questions

There is a common misconception that trolleycoaches or trolleybuses run on rails or are guided by their overhead wires. Trolleybuses do neither but can be guided.



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Promoting quiet, clean urban transport using Overhead Electric, Zero Emission Trolleybuses -
email The Electric Tbus Group

updated 11/11/04

eQdigital


  What's in name?
  What is a tbus?
  Why have overhead wiring?
  Isn't the overhead intrusive?
  What are the advantages of tbuses?
  What's the difference between trams and tbuses?
  What difference is the public likely to experience?
  What are tbuses like to ride in?
  What are the cost differences?
  Is tbus technology new?
  How many people do tbuses carry?
  Are tbuses guided?
  What about other alternatives?

What's in name?
Tbuses are known as trolleybuses, trolleycoaches and even trackless trams. In Germany they're called O-buses and in Italy, filobuses. All names relate to the ways in which electrical power is collected from overhead wires. top

What is a tbus?
Any passenger carrying vehicle with rubber tyres that uses 'trolley booms' to collect electrical power from overhead wiring to rotate motors to propel the vehicle, is a trolleybus. It may have one or more electric motors. It may also have additional power sources, such as batteries, or a small diesel or even a flywheel, for use when the 'booms' are not connected. The vehicle may have one or two decks, have 2, 3 or more axles and may or may not be articulated. top

Why have overhead wiring?
Electricity fed directly to tbuses is the most energy efficient method of public transport yet devised. Any other method is either polluting or wasteful or both. top

Isn't the overhead intrusive?
Swiss overhead wiring companies have revolutionised both the weight and efficiency of systems. Tbus wiring is much less bulky and more flexible than it was in previous UK systems. top

What are the advantages of tbuses?
Apart from being energy efficient, tbuses are quiet and smooth. They are appreciated by passengers and so are popular. top

What's the difference between trams and tbuses?
A lot of the advantages of tbuses are shared with trams; they share many similar virtues such as electric traction, energy efficiency and no pollution. But trams need rails laid in the street, which are very expensive to build and maintain. top

What difference is the public likely to experience?
Tbuses run very smoothly and can have low floors thoughout the interior. Low floor trams tend to ride roughly, especially on corners, and diesel buses vibrate and are noisy. Passengers around the world have consistently shown appreciation of the ride quality and quietness. top

What are tbuses like to ride in?
Tbuses are very quiet, accelerate very smoothly and powerfully and are odourless. top

What are the cost differences?
Because tbuses don't need the guidance provided by rails, they are considerably cheaper than trams. The overhead wiring is a capital cost that can be recouped by the longer life of tbuses, typically 30 years. Diesel buses are initially cheaper, but only last around 10 years in inner city service. top

Is tbus technology new?
No, the first trolleybus was built in 1882 and they started entering service in the 1900s. Shanghai has had trolleybuses operating for 90 years. top

How many people do tbuses carry?
With electric motors that take up less room than other power sources, tbuses carry slightly more than diesel buses. Tbuses can carry up to 200 passengers in double articulated single deck versions. Trams, because of legal provision, can carry more passengers. top

Are tbuses guided?
Tbuses are not inherently guided, though new systems in France and Italy have guidanace. Tbuses can be guided into stops with special kerbs, requiring no changes to the tbus itself. top

What about other alternatives?

There have been attempts to achieve zero emissions without overhead wiring. Fuelcell buses are very expensive, inefficient and experimental. Battery buses have not yet found a battery chemistry that can replace direct electric traction or diesel technology. Hybrid buses combine diesel and battery technologies and achieve better 'green' credentials, but still emit carconogenic pollutants. top

Ashley Bruce