Trolley poles in contact with the overhead wires
(picture: Ashley Bruce

A Geneva Trolleybus with poles retracted

Trolleybus and tram sharing the same street


An old-fashioned Trolleybus


If you have any questions which are not answered here, please contact us at:

Are Trolleybuses environmentally friendly?

Yes. Trolleybuses run on electricity from overhead cables and produce no emissions at street level. Because the electricity is generated centrally at a power station, it works out much more efficiently in terms of energy consumption than an onboard internal combustion engine.

Can Trolleybuses carry large amounts of people?

Yes. The largest Trolleybus designs can carry 200 people or more - this is the same as most trams, including the proposed Leeds Supertram.

Do Trolleybuses need rails?

No. The Trolleybus runs on ordinary tarmac roads - either mixed with traffic or segregated into bus-only routes. Because the Trolleybus has tyres it doesn't need special rails.

Are Trolleybuses reliable?

Yes, very. Because the Trolleybus uses an electric motor, instead of diesel, there are less moving parts to go wrong and the motor is able to endure more stress. Also there is less vibration with an electric system, so the fabric of the bus does not undergo as much shaking and rattling.

Are Trolleybuses quiet?

Yes. Much more quiet than diesels and even quieter than modern trams.

Don't Trolleybuses have a problem with coming off the wires?

Very rarely. 'De-wiring' used to be a problem in the old days, especially when going round corners at speed. The driver would then have to get out and put the trolley poles back into position. Nowadays, modern systems almost always prevent this from happening, and on the rare occasions when it does, the driver can re-connect to the wires without leaving his seat. Because modern Trolleybuses have batteries for back-up power, they can easily drive back under the wires if they have to.

Are Trolleybuses expensive?

Not compared to trams. A Trolleybus normally costs about half as much as a tram. Trolleybuses are more expensive than diesel buses though - usually about a quarter as much again. However, in the long run, Trolleybuses work out cheaper because they tend to last much longer than an ordinary bus.