3.9.15

GOING BEYOND THE WIRES.

The trackless trolley coach enabled street railway companies to continue to amortize their investment in overhead wire, whilst being able to remove track, and perhaps the obligation to pay for street maintenance.  But the trackless trolley lost out to the infernal combustion bus, which could run beyond the overhead.  And creating a dual-mode bus, as Newark did. introduced unnecessary cost and complexity.


Newark Trolleybus Photos, photographer unknown.

But with improvements in batteries, the possibility of a plug-in trackless trolley that doesn't lug a spare power plant along arises.  A year ago, I was in Hamburg, but the Siemens plug-in trolley coach wasn't yet in service.  They can be recharged quickly at each end of the line.



Note that the recharging rails on the power stanchion lower to connect with terminals on the roof of the bus.  It's also possible to recharge trackless trolley coaches by induction, in the manner of a rechargeable toothbrush.  Such is the practice with trackless trolleys -- perhaps, legally, electric busses -- at the University of Utah.
To date, a typical bus battery reliant on wires for a charge weighs about 10,000 pounds, or about a third of the vehicle's weight. WAVE's battery comes in at about a quarter of that, or 2,500 pounds.

The U. bus is expected to run from the school's TRAX stop on South Campus Drive through the center of campus sometime next year. The 50 kW shuttle will power up at the route's final stop near the Huntsman Cancer Institute. There, a small battery pad on its underside wirelessly picks up small amounts of "trickle" charge from an in-ground plate. The station isn't delicate: It can be plowed and shoveled over.

Officials sought the battery-powered bus for that route because they didn't want a typical diesel engine sputtering and polluting the heart of campus, said spokeswoman Annalisa Purser.
There's potential for such buses elsewhere. Imagine the Huskie Line with recharging stations at the bus turnaround, a piece of real estate currently in use as the bus terminal and not much else.  And that Hamburg Hochbahn paint job works well just as it is.

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