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June 30, 2014

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City’s old trolley buses take final journey into history

SHANGHAI’S last remaining 100 or so old trolley buses will be withdrawn from service today, making way for new-generation electric buses.

And almost 100 nostalgic trolley bus enthusiasts yesterday took the No. 14 trolley bus route — China’s first — to bid them farewell.

Trolley buses on 12 routes,  including the No. 6, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20 and 23, will be replaced by 300 battery-powered buses.

These still have connecting poles but can run eight to 10 kilometers without contact with overhead electric wires.

“New-generation electric buses which have their own batteries are much more flexible,” said Shen Haiying, operation manager with Shanghai Bashi Group, a main bus operator in the city.

“Even if there are problems with the overhead wires they can still run to repair stations using their own power, instead of getting stuck and causing traffic jams,” added Shen.

Among those routes bringing in the new is the No. 14 route.

In November 1914, the first trolley bus in China, the No. 14, ran from Dongxinqiao Bridge in the current Huangpu District to Zhengjiamu Bridge, about 1 kilometer away.

And as a bus followed this route for the last time yesterday, its pole lost contact with the overhead wire.

This was also the last time for Chen Jixiang, who has driven buses on the No. 14 line for 27 years, to experience a moment he was all too familiar with.

But he said in the past this brought out the best in Shanghai residents. “Whenever the bus was stuck, passengers would help me push it,” he said.

A trolley bus enthusiast onboard yesterday said such a scene was “heartwarming.”

Shanghai’s trolley buses witnessed their heyday in 1994, when the city had more than 20 routes for 986 trolley buses and they carried over 30 percent of passengers in downtown.

A few old trolley buses will probably be kept in some historical protection areas, according to the Shanghai Transport Commission.


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