In 1995, pollution, congestion, urban viability and shrinking transit subsidies raise concerns for planners seeking alternative means of public transportation. Although the electric trolley coach alone cannot solve all or any of these problems, it may have the potentital to mitigate some of them. Although the trolley coach emits no odors or particulates, it has not always been considered the most efficient means of public transportation. Over the past 40 years its use has declined by almost 93%, but the cost savings and revenue from modernization have never materialized on a per passenger basis. Its decline resulted in higher costs per passenger with less revenue. The use of simplistic cost-per-mile comparisons is partly to blame for the retrogression. A better cost measure is needed. Five North American transit systems still operate trolley coaches. Generally these are well-patronized systems. Their operating statistics are analyzed and compared with same-system diesel bus operations. It often appears that well-managed trolley coaches are moving people at lower costs on suitable routes than diesel buses and earn a higher revenue-to-cost ratio. The potential of increased revenue and ridership make trolley coaches worth reconsidering. Their advantages include traffic relief, stimulated economic activity, and reduced pollution. The up-front investment would be considerable and close management attention would be essential, but the adverse impact observed with its curtailment in the past suggests that a revival is worthy of study by many urban transit systems.


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: References; Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 57-62
  • Monograph Title: Public transportation 1995: current research in operations
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00715527
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0309061652
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Dec 29 1996 12:00AM