Letter: Trolleybus facts

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Re the letter by Councillor Lewis (24 May), I wish he would distinguish between long-established trolleybus systems and the very few which in recent years have been entirely new. The vast majority of trolleybus schemes began life in towns such as Budapest when they were still under communism, and survived longer than elsewhere on roads that were largely free of private motorcars.

Their survival in Switzerland is due in part to the abundance of cheap hydroelectricity.

It is only natural any town with a well-established trolleybus system should want to make the most of it.

This applies as much in Geneva as in Budapest, though in the Swiss city at least the situation is more complex than it might appear.

The new route Councillor Lewis refers to is to serve new housing developments near or just across the French frontier, and is in part an extension of an existing line.

Nowhere in the Van Hool press release of April 15 is it stated that the 33 trolleybuses they are supplying now are to be used for that particular purpose.

On the contrary, it is clearly stressed in a press release that one of ambitions of the Geneva TOSA electric bus project, which inaugurated its first test line on May 26 is “the rolling out of the brand new system on one or more full – new or existing – routes.”

As for entirely new trolleybus schemes brought in the present century, most are in relatively small towns which cannot be compared to Leeds.

In Europe, only two are in larger cities: Rome (where for much of the time the vehicles turn into electric buses running on batteries without either overhead wires or special lanes), and Castellón de la Plana in Spain, which is almost a symbol of how Spain overstretched itself before the economic downturn.

It is run at a loss and is to be heavily subsidized by the local regional authorities up to 2027.

Christopher Todd, via email