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Aging trolleys raise issue of their phase-out

THE city's few trolley buses, already in the center of a debate over whether they should be kept or eliminated after nearly a century of service, suffered a setback yesterday when two buses stalled in the middle of a road due to power failure.

Two Route 25 trolley buses were paralyzed and jammed a street in Hongkou District when their electric poles in contact with the overhead wires broke loose during yesterday's morning rush hour. The problem was not fixed until 10:30am.

An official with the Shanghai Bashi Co, the bus operator, blamed the antiquated equipment for the accident and said the problem would become more frequent among the city's trolleys as they approach their age limit.

The breakdown once again raised the question whether the old trolleys should be replaced by new battery-powered buses. But local transportation authorities said some routes would be retained for tourists and nostalgic locals.

Shanghai has now 173 trolley buses running on ten routes, down from 986 at the peak in 1994, said the official surnamed Lei.

Trolleys are considered too slow and unreliable as their poles easily lose contact with the overhead electric wires.

But the operator also worries that the new-generation electric buses may be too expensive to run and maintain. Some new electric buses have been introduced to some routes on a trial basis after their debut at the World Expo last year.


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