eco-city design

walkable centres

shared space or separation


efficient buildings

public transport

why the trolleybus

road layout

car-lite districts



sustainable farming


quality of life


Why The Trolleybus?

With a much smaller emphasis on cars, a city needs to be based around its public transportation.  But which mode?

Subway, Elevated Rail and Monorail

Subways, elevated rail and monorail are grade separated – they run along tracks completely separate from pedestrians and street traffic.  As well as being safer, this also means they can travel faster.  They can also be automated, doing away with the need for drivers entirely.

London UndergroundDocklands Light Railway

Monorails.  My favourite of the more expensive, grade separated modes of transportation

However, these are also the most expensive modes to install.  Elevated rail and monorail are somewhat cheaper, but some people object to them on visual grounds, particularly elevated rail and the huge areas of shadow it casts.

Diesel Buses

Diesel buses are the cheapest option.  They are also the most adaptable.

London bus

However they are roughly as loud and smelly as the fifty or so cars they replace.  And with their lurching ride and vibrations from the diesel engine, they aren't comfortable to ride either.

Hybrid buses promise slight improvements, but they will still be the least likely to tempt people out of their cars.

Trams and Trolleybuses

Trams and trolleybuses are altogether better propositions.

Taking their power from overhead lines, they emit no pollutants into the street.  They are energy efficient, especially when equipped with regenerative brakes, which recover energy that would otherwise be lost when braking and feed it back into the overhead lines.

They offer smooth, quiet rides.  And, so long as the trolleybuses are fitted with kerb guidance for level boarding at stops, both are accessible to everyone.


Guide wheels on the side of the bus......push against raised kerbs... ...for level boarding at stops

They're also inexpensive enough to stay within the budget of small to medium cities.

So tram or trolleybus?

The biggest advantage trams have over trolleybuses is their greater capacity, particularly when trained together, so each driver can transport more passengers and thus fewer are needed, reducing operating costs.  In practice, however, very long trams don’t mix well with pedestrian areas.  For example the Nottingham trams are 33m long, compared to 25m for a double articulated bus.

Trams. Also known as light rail, streetcars, and trolleys

Trolleybuses are cheaper than trams.  Since they operate on rubber tyres, they are quieter.  They’re safer too, able to brake much more quickly in an emergency and steer around stray pedestrians.

Trolleybuses. Also known as trolleycoaches, electroliners and tbuses

In any public transportation system, reliability is very important.  When an entire city depends upon that system, reliability is absolutely crucial.  And it is here where the trolleybus really scores over the tram.  If equipped with an auxiliary battery, the bus is free to leave the overhead lines to circumvent obstacles, whether they be broken-down vehicles or road works.  Trams just can’t do this, and any such problems would have a large impact on service.

With medium sized cities the higher capacity of trams makes them more or less essential, but the best choice for small cities is the trolleybus.