I’m in Shanghai right now and thought you guys might be interested in the new trolley bus system in operation here. Just in case anyone is unfamiliar with the term, a trolleybus is an electric bus that draws power from overhead wires using spring-loaded trolley poles. It’s like a tram without rails.

Advertisement

Here the buses have their own lanes, and they pull up at the bus stations precisely, so that their doors align with gates in the station fences, which slide open when the bus arrives.

But here’s the really neat part. Because the buses draw their power from the overhead cables they don’t need batteries, so the floor is very low, level with the sidewalk, making the buses totally wheelchair accessible (that section of the yellow area slides out to the kerb when needed).

Advertisement

The really neat part is this. That floor runs all the way from the front of the bus to the back like that. It’s below the hub, because there are no axles. Each wheel, motor and suspension mechanism is mounted independently inside of its own wheel arch, which is then used as a base for seating in both directions. The front wheels are in their own cubbies too, with (I assume) servo-powered steering on each wheel.

Advertisement

Advertisement

They’re kept spotlessly clean.

Advertisement

There’s a illuminated display at each station, showing the route and the time of the next bus in each direction.

Advertisement

The routes aren’t particularly extensive just yet, but amazingly any ride on the system cost 2RMB (32¢).

Advertisement

Anyway, just thought I’d share. It’s a pretty damn cool system, it’s very popular here, and it got us around Jing An efficiently and cheaply.