Are Trolleybuses a Good Idea in our Extreme Weather Climate?

Trolleybuses seem like a really good idea. They don’t have to carry around big batteries and they never need to stop and charge since they can just run on overhead wires. But do they make sense in our cities now that we live in a dangerous world of extreme weather?

Because the Trolleybuses run on set routes that can’t be changed, what happens if you get localised flooding from extreme rainfall? You can’t just divert the buses around the flood like you could with a battery bus.

Maybe you could fit them with batteries small enough that would allow them to circumvent a flooded area but not too big to increase the weight by a huge amount. There’s also a potential problem with the overhead wires being affected by extreme heat. But that is also a risk for trams and trains so not really relevant here. Although perhaps the way Trolleybus pantographs hold the wires rather than lift up to touch them makes them more resistant to sagging wires than pantographs on trams and trains.

I think we’re going to see a lot of variation in bus drivetrains. We’re already seeing hydrogen buses up in Scotland which are at the moment pretty well suited to the rural routes, and EV buses in city centres. I don’t see new trolleybuses being installed in places that don’t already have them unfortunately, but hopefully I’m wrong about that.

But cities that do have them really need to promote the buses to the people once private cars are finally banned. Let them know that we were right the first time about public transport, and that car ownership was an epic mistake we can recover from.

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