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Old September 16th, 2008, 06:07 PM   #1
JERRYLAD
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Electric Trolleybuses for Singapore...Why not?

Ever since my visits to Vancouver, San Francisco, Zurich and even Beijing I have not stopped thinking about the idea of re-introducing trolleybuses back to Singapore's streets...

Speaking of real environmentally friendly “greenies”, Why Not Electric Trolleybuses Instead of CNG?

I refer to “SBS rolls out 10 more ‘greenies’”; (ST, April 25 2006). Since both CNG buses and electric trolleybuses involve higher cost in their initial investments and operation I would like to suggest authorities revisiting the idea and studying feasibilities of re-introducing electric trolleybuses to Singapore. On top of a basket of advantages electric trolleybuses possess compared to its CNG counterparts an electric trolleybus is the real zero-emission bus that runs on electricity - the cleanest power everybody knows of.

A modern trolleybus is a world of difference from its old-timer counterparts which many of senior Singaporeans had seen, before 1962. The initial investment on infrastructure and the purchasing cost of an electric trolleybus may be higher than a standard diesel bus. However, it is still much cheaper to operate for the long-run due to its high energy-efficiency on electricity. Many of us may not know that an electric trolleybus can return some electric power back to its electric power network when it is braking. The MRT trains in Singapore also have such capabilities.

Trolleybus is ideal to be deployed to ply feeder routes in the residential neighbourhoods. This is because of a host of characteristics an electric trolleybus exclusively possesses. A modern electric trolleybus produces zero-emissions which can help reduce harmful street vehicular emissions significantly. In addition, an electric trolleybus does not contribute to increasing street noise levels as it is considerably quieter compared to a normal diesel bus or a CNG bus. This is particularly advantageous to the residents whose flats are close to roads in neighbourhoods.

In the tropical Singapore, air-conditioning on the transit has been becoming ever more essential. Similar to MRT trains, an electric trolleybus is able to feed its own onboard aircon unit directly from its electric traction power source, hence the need of a fuel burning generator onboard no longer exists. A diesel or CNG bus needs to keep their engines running non-stop in order to power their aircon units, hence producing emissions at all times even when the bus is waiting for traffic lights or loading and unloading passengers at bus stops.

Speaking of double-deckers, it is possible to have double-decker trolleybuses as well as articulated ones (bendy bus), which would really make an electric trolleybus stand out in the crowd for its high efficiency on energy utilization. Like their diesel counterparts, there are also low-floor and wheelchair accessible trolleybuses already available in the market. A few famed auto-makers Volvo, Neoplan and Mercedes-Benz have already been supplying such low-floor trolleybuses to a number of European and American cities.

Many other benefits an electric trolleybus can bring about include quick and smooth acceleration, superb performance on hilly roads, abilities to operate without overhead wiring in emergencies such as power failure or negotiating road works. Besides, studies have shown that electric trolleybus is most preferred by the public in trolleybus operating cities. It is a more attractive mode of public transport which results in increased ridership. Vancouver Canada, Lyon France, Rome & Milan Italy, San Francisco US, Athens Greece and many Austrian and Swiss cities have just decided to renew and expand its existing trolleybus fleet. Even the Chinese capital Beijing has taken initiatives by placing orders to purchase more modern low-floor trolleybuses in the move to better prepare itself for as an Olympic Games hostcity. Having witnessed the benefits Athens enjoyed Beijing is now simply doing what Athens did for the 2004 Olympic Games.

Electric trolleybus is a proven and reliable technology yet it is by far the ‘greenest’ bus ever run on city streets. As a matter of better choice it should definitely deserve at least a chance of trial in Singapore. Perhaps, the project could pilot off as a feeder network serving a populated housing estate before it is being introduced to serve other larger parts of our country.

Do not know how a trolleybus looks like? Watch the following trolleybuses in motion on Youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxL-jiM2Yok

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krEcjfj-_vM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN2P5Lr3epU

Last edited by JERRYLAD; September 16th, 2008 at 06:26 PM.
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Old September 16th, 2008, 07:59 PM   #2
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Its been discussed here: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=441387

Well, if we could rewind to the pre-LRT days, I think the electric tram/trollybuses could have really taken off in place of LRTs. Think about it: The reliability of MRTs, convenience of buses, the zero-emissions greeness.
1. Having their own dedicated lanes, they would be less susceptible to traffic jams and can offer 'on-time-performance' almost like that of trains.
2.They would be far more convenient than LRTs, where by you have to climb up 2 flights of stairs, and instead be more like buses, boarding at ground level.
3.Powered by electricity means minimal pollution.
4.Infrastructure is MUCH cheaper than LRTs, rail lines are just added to the roads, no support collums and elaborate stations, just using existing regular bus stops...

just my two cents...
Anw, that was pretty well written. Maybe you could add in some of the points (like the 'no overhead cables needed') discussed in the previous thread and send it in to the Straits Times. Who knows, they might actually do it. In fact, remember many years back when your MRT lines were double colored for their different directions (Red/yellow and blue/green)? If I remembered right, it was a letter in the ST that sparked LTA's change to single colored MRT lines.
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Old September 17th, 2008, 04:22 AM   #3
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I prefer trams and BRTs now.
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Old September 17th, 2008, 04:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzardtweaker View Post
Its been discussed here: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=441387

Well, if we could rewind to the pre-LRT days, I think the electric tram/trollybuses could have really taken off in place of LRTs. Think about it: The reliability of MRTs, convenience of buses, the zero-emissions greeness.
1. Having their own dedicated lanes, they would be less susceptible to traffic jams and can offer 'on-time-performance' almost like that of trains.
2.They would be far more convenient than LRTs, where by you have to climb up 2 flights of stairs, and instead be more like buses, boarding at ground level.
3.Powered by electricity means minimal pollution.
4.Infrastructure is MUCH cheaper than LRTs, rail lines are just added to the roads, no support collums and elaborate stations, just using existing regular bus stops...

just my two cents...
Anw, that was pretty well written. Maybe you could add in some of the points (like the 'no overhead cables needed') discussed in the previous thread and send it in to the Straits Times. Who knows, they might actually do it. In fact, remember many years back when your MRT lines were double colored for their different directions (Red/yellow and blue/green)? If I remembered right, it was a letter in the ST that sparked LTA's change to single colored MRT lines.
Many thanks for your input and comments on my article along with the proposal. However, I'd like to clarify that Trolleybus is a totally different mode of public transport from Tram despite some similarities they share.

What are the main differences between a trolleybus and a tram?
-A trolleybus does not require costly steel rails as its steering is controlled by the driver like that of a normal bus. A trolleybus runs on rubber typers like a normal bus. (Trams run on steel rails)
-A trolleybus is more flexible and able to maneuver to go around obstacles in its way whereas a tram can't do so if there are obstacles sitting on its rails ahead.
See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC88-AipGAQ

-A trolleybus requires a set of twin overhead wires installed over the street/road where it operates. The twin wires consists of one positive and one return to feed the electric motor on the trolleybus that runs on rubber typers. (Of course, the aircon unit on the bus can also draw electric power directly from the twin wires.) A tram only requires one single overhead line, (but it also requires the expensive steel rails down under)
-Econimically, a trolleybus network is a lot, a lot, a lot cheaper to build and maintain as compared to a tram network.


Why Singapore should start exploring the option of electric trolleybus?

- The ever rising oil prices will eventually drive public transit operators to reconsider the continual use of diesel buses. The impact of rising diesel prices will be felt much greater later on, it's only a matter of time when the oil reserve of our planet runs dry. Trolleybus runs on renewable energy - electricity which can be obtained through many ways - wind, water (hydropower), solar, coal, natural gas, even nuclear etc. Just to share, Vancouver's entire fleet of trolleybuses are fed on hydro-power on their hydro-electric scheme. In other words, the electric trolleybuses on Vancouver's streets are absolutely ZERO-emission as they are actually, indirectly, powered by the force of falling water in the river.

- Environmentally, even the current power plants in Singapore are gas powered or diesel fueled for example, it is still cleaner and more effective to treat and filter the power plants' emissions/dust to be more environmentally acceptable in a centralised manner at the power plant located far away from residential developments rather than letting individual buses spew harmful smoke all over the streets next to people. Make health sense?

- Another sharing on how trolleybuese have positive effect on property values in some trolleybus operating cities. In Vancouver for example, residential properties' values went up by 15- 20 % when a diesel bus service serving a particular residental neighbourhood had been replaced by an electric trolleybus line. People in that neighbourhood are smart enough to note that with trolleys operating in their neighbourhood what it means is nothing less than a quieter and cleaner living environment for the residents. The famous Stanley Park next to downtown Vancouver only allows electric trolleybuses to enter its park premises full of greeneries, where trolleybus infrastructures along with a trolleybus terminal is situated in the park.

Last edited by JERRYLAD; September 18th, 2008 at 12:11 PM.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 05:06 AM   #5
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I'm ok with trolleybuses, and best if running like BRTs.. But aren't there overhead wiring restrictions here?
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Old September 18th, 2008, 10:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon91 View Post
I'm ok with trolleybuses, and best if running like BRTs.. But aren't there overhead wiring restrictions here?
On the issue of overhead wirings restrictions in Singapore
- The rule/restriction is dead and has been set by living people. I am sure exceptions could be made for trolleybuses' traction power supply.

please note the LRT tracks in SengKang and Punggol are much more visually disturbing as the bulky elevated tracks actually block out quite a sizable portion of the sky over the streets, and they are much much more expensive to construct.

Why exception for trolleybuses?
- Do a survey and ask any Singapore resident with a sound mind this question?

"Do you rather wish to inhale more harmful diesel exhaust that is potentially cancer/disease causing or allow a couple of thin power lines installed over some of our streets knowing these overhead wires power the zero-emission and blissfully quiet buses that do not harm your health?"

Nevertheless, to a certain extent a couple of wirings over our streets may be visually intrusive to some. But, their presence dosen't cause any material harm or health issues to people. When it comes to health and hospital bills, I am sure most Kiasu and Kiasi Singaporeans will automatically make the right choice on this issue.

Any solutions to minimise the visual impact of the overhead wirings?
-Well this is a very broad topic. Yes. Some European and American trolleybus operating cities have been studying for many years how to make public transit power lines (including both trolleybus and trams) less visually intrusive. Currently, urban planning authorities of these cities are working closely with the transit operators to better integrate the trolleybus/tram infrastructures with the landscape/streetscape such that the wirings would appear less visible and intrusive. For example, conceal the wirings under a row of trees planted along the street curb of the streets where trolleybus wires are strung.

The advanced engineering in the relevant field has also come up with trolleybus wirings that are robust and a lot simpler in design which requires a lot less instruments (clamps, spanners, supporting strings etc) to be put up than before. Sometimes, all you can see is only a couple of lines being strung by a simple mast arm every 300 meters or so at the height of 5.8M - 6M to the street surface.
Those lines are not messy telephone wires you see in Malaysia. Trolleybus overhead wires are like "rail tracks" to trolleybuses and need to be in proper straight lines and consistent patterns otherwise the speed of the trolleybuses may be undermined. As such, not everyone find them ugly.
Many cities also integrate the traction poles with street lighting poles so that no additional poles are erected. One pole with two purpose - street lighting and support trolleybus wires. Of course, some cities also allow buildings on both side of the street to provide support to trolleybus/tram overhead wirings, this method is widely used in many European cities. In our spiritual sister Hong Kong, the tram wires on Hong Kong island are also supported by buildings during some sections of the route.

In addition, modern trolleybuses are equipped with a bank of onboard rechargeable batteries which enable the trolleybus to travel without overhead wires for a considerable length of distances. Take the 2008 Olympics host Beijing for example, there are a few trolleybus services that need to cross the famous Chang'an Street.
Previously, there were trolleybus overhead wires strung over the Chang'an Street junction. But since the city government did not want any overhead wires to be seen over the famous Chang'an Street during the run-up to one of their National Day celebrations a few years back the Beijing trolleybus company innovated and worked around the challenge by agreeing to remove that section of trolleybus wires and yet able to maintain normal trolleybus passenger operation by coming up with a new type of buses that can operate both with wires and without wires. The new trolleybus would retract its trolley-poles and rely on its batteries onboard when crossing the Chang'an Street together with the Wong Fu Xin Shopping belt, where overhead wires are also removed.

Watch the Beijing trolleybus in motion:
1. Beijing trolleybus lowering poles to enter non-wire zone
http://vhead.blog.sina.com.cn/player...uid=1434100121

2. Beijing trolleybus raising poles after exiting the non-wire zone
http://vhead.blog.sina.com.cn/player...uid=1434100121

3. Other Beijing trolleybuses in motion (take note of the sound of the bus, it is soothing and quiet when it's accelerating in contrast to the noisy diesel buses)
- http://vhead.blog.sina.com.cn/player...uid=1434100121

- http://vhead.blog.sina.com.cn/player...uid=1434100121

The Chinese trolleybus technology is not representative of the most advanced in this industry. The above videos and sharing are only for illustration purposes. If Singapore were to introduce trolleybus I'm sure we would get the best and more reliable technologies from the western manufacturers.

Here's one from Rome - capital of Italy. The trolleybuses there also can operate without wires.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSxTniqh_EQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTJYsIdZlTg


If not, then screw the overhead wiring restrictions!
- Who would always notice a couple of lines above the roads/streets when you go out shopping? Your eyes are supposed be on the pretty and handsome faces of the shopping crowds and the various merchandises on display in the shopping mall. When you walk on the sidewalk, the couple of wires over the traffic lanes won't bother you or kill you. In some trolleybus operating cities, people hardly notice the wires to be honest.
-Why Singapore is so fussy about the wires eventhough other world-class international cities are okay with them? Tokyo does not have trolleybuses but most of their commuter trains criss-cross the city require a very very complicated and thick-looking overhead catenary system over the above-ground tracks in the city. Melbourne has a network of electric trams and it also does not mind the wirings over the streets there. The famous iconic photo of Melbourne's Flinders Street Station never fails to impress eventhough there are overhead tram wires hanging above that famous junction. Other examples include San Francisco, Milan, Paris (new trams), etc, etc.
- On an interesting note, if you have lived in a city where trolleybuses operate you will note that the trolleybus wires can sometimes act like a Realtime Bus Arrival Indicator. How? Many seasoned trolleybus passengers at the bus stop note that the overhead wires stay still, not vibrating when the bus is still very far away and that the wires would start to dance and vibrate when there are trolleybuses approaching the bus stop.

Trolleybus BRT
-It is interesting to find the trolleybus version of our SMRT's Hispano Habit bendy bus in the city of Merida, Venezuela, South America. They have the same look and body.
Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjA4YVazsBM

Last edited by JERRYLAD; September 18th, 2008 at 12:14 PM.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 11:35 AM   #7
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Cool. I'm in favour for the trolleybus system. Maybe the government can implement them at Punggol or the planned Simpang New Town first for a trial run to see if it's popular. Then we could test them in towns which have slightly higher traffic, like Toa Payoh or Tiong Bahru. If it is popular in these two trials, then we can do a last trial in the city itself like Orchard or Bugis, to check if it is popular. After all three trials are done, we can then see if we could partially replace bus routes to trolleybus islandwide.

I'm kind of interested of having trolleybuses in Singapore.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 04:34 PM   #8
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Thats a decent post, JERRYLAD. as I said, I like the idea of them here.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 04:53 PM   #9
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In addition, electric trolleybuses do not contribute to "heat pollution" as well!

In the hot and sunny Singapore, have you ever experienced waiting for a bus on a hot day at a open-air bus stop? I am sure many have. I am also sure many of us have the encounters of dogging away from the bus stop area that happens to be next to a bus loading and unloading, particularly near the back of the bus where the running diesel engine is situated. Why? The internal-combustion diesel engine not only produces disturbing noises but also at the same time sending out lots lots of uninviting heat waves to the passengers standing nearby, making the place twice hotter than it already is.

Well, truth be told. An electric trolleybus does not make noise at all and does not produce heat waves from its electric motors. When a trolleybus is loading or unloading at a bus stop, probably the only thing that is running is the air-conditioning unit onboard which draws electric power that has been stepped down in voltage directly from the overhead wires. Its "engine" - the electric motor is powered-off.

We don't have to put up with the enormous noise and heat waves a diesel bus gives out when it is fully loaded and trying to pull off from the bus stop.
Trolleybuses have electric motors similar to what our MRT trains have which are extremely powerful and yet silent only with the minimal electric current sound. A fully loaded trolleybuses packed like a sardine can is able to pull off from bus stop a lot more swiftly than a struggling noisy diesel bus.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 05:23 PM   #10
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I heard something like the one-north region would have a system like that serving it.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 05:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon91 View Post
Thats a decent post, JERRYLAD. as I said, I like the idea of them here.
Thank you for your support to the idea Simon. But our government and authorities are yet sufficiently convinced.

I once wrote to LTA before and the response from them wasn't very positive. Hope the like-minded people like you could help campaign for it and help open up the minds of our authorities.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 06:13 PM   #12
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actually, i'd rather go for trams than trolleybuses. i really hate overhead wires!
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Old September 19th, 2008, 07:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heirloom View Post
actually, i'd rather go for trams than trolleybuses. i really hate overhead wires!
Trams also need overhead wires

I'd like to share with you that as of current, 99.99% of electric trams built by humans on the planet earth still draw power from overhead cables by means of a pantograph/trolley-pole hinged on top of the tramcar irrespective of how modern and advanced they have evolved to till this era, except that trams need only a single overhead cable whereas trolleybuses need a pair, one positive and one negative.

Why most still using overhead lines?

Because it is the most cost-effective, most proven and reliable technology by far to supply a steady flow of electric current to the tramcars running on the line. (If you do not want to see Singaporeans get stranded in trams due to power glitches every now and then)

Some of you may have heard the new type of trams that do not need overhead cables. True. However, many may now know the conduit trams that draw electric power from down under through a plough that is slotted into and glides along a centre power track in a French city require a system that is very costly to build and difficult to maintain.

Imagine every episode of regular maintenance work on the power supply system would translate into the road surface being dug up and the tram lane, sometimes may be shared with other road users, closed for traffic. Because the power track is countersunk into the road, once a slight glitch happens it is going to cause a massive jam, at least to the trams behind, and it is going to take much longer time for the crew to fix it. Because they have to firstly dig up the road to gain access to the problem power track. While the power track is hidden beneath the road surface, the crew might also have a harder time locating exactly where the problem section/instrument is.

I am not in favour of the trams that draw power from down under, at least not for Singapore, as firstly I do not think it is absolutely safe and 100% trusted that the power track embedded in the street can stay totally insulated even during our monsoon and rainy seasons during which the streets may get flooded with rain water. Secondly, going wire-less for trams is still not a widely used and mature technology as of now and I do not wish Singapore to be the Guinea pig again.

Still remember how SMRT was fined for the frequent breakdowns on the Bukit Panjang LRT system due to power glitches?

Speaking of being most livable - Facts explain better

Having overhead wires for public transit purposes does not undermine Singapore's position as a global city, neither will it reduce the livability index of Singapore known as a green and garden city.

Under Mercer's Quality Living Survey 2008, the top 4 of world's most livable cities are:

1 Zurich Switzerland rating 108
2 Vienna Austria rating 107.9
3 Geneva Switzerland rating 107.9
4 Vancouver Canada rating 107.6

Note: Important criteria to be one of the most livable are safety, education, hygiene, recreation, political-economic stability and public transportation.

Zurich Switzerland
The city's main public transport relies on its extensive network of both trams and trolleybuses all of which draw electric power from overhead wires.

Vienna Austria
Electric trams criss-cross the city are the major means of getting around the city. The trams draw power from overhead wires.

Geneva Switzerland
Similar to Zurich, the city's main public transport relies on its extensive network of both trams and trolleybuses all of which draw electric power from overhead wires. The swiss people are very particular about having polluting buses in their towns.

Vancouver Canada
The city boasts the 2nd largest electric trolleybus network in North America just behind the scenic San Francisco in west of United States of America, which is voted as Americans' all-time favourite city. Electric trolleybuses carry 80% of public transit users in downtown Vancouver.

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Old September 19th, 2008, 03:09 PM   #14
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oh ok, i was thinking about those trams with power from the ground. i'm not informed on this topic though, so thanks for the info
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Old September 19th, 2008, 05:52 PM   #15
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Electric trolleybuses can be good but I seriously cannot find a difference between normal buses and trolleybuses. Maybe trolley buses have larger capacity than normal buses but not all I believe. Yes indeed trolleybuses is very eco-friendly and is cheaper compared to other modes of transport but even if I support the idea of it, I don't think LTA will specially allow it to build overheard wires on above ground, since to LTA is:

Above Ground Overhead Wire = Someone may get injured by electricity

And according to your data, do you noticed that they are in western countries where more European style buildings and less tress are. Since largely the buildings colours camouflage the overheard wires but here in Singapore is different, it just somehow become too obvious and is spoiling the view. I know the MRT track concrete is very bare but I believe NEA and LTA is trying to do something with that, last heard was planting very colourful flowers underneath them which really remove the "bare" effect. Also the underground electric tram system is expensive but prove to be workable. The BLRT's failure was more of LTA rushing SMRT to open hence the frequent breakdown as the new LRT has lower breakdown as LTA give more time to SBS to test the system.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 06:33 PM   #16
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Quote:
Above Ground Overhead Wire = Someone may get injured by electricity
yup! and in Singapore's contacts, its an eye-sore. Remember 'No overhead cables' was one of Singapore big no-nos, so if this does go through, the government would opt to be that 0.1% no matter how much more it cost. Just as how the original MRT used the 3rd rail instead of overhead wires.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 04:31 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LondonBVE View Post
Above Ground Overhead Wire = Someone may get injured by electricity
Thank you for your valuable sharing and input.

With due respect, as a Singapore citizen who cares about our nation, I must say that If LTA really believes that "Above Ground Overhead Wire = Someone may get injured by electricity" then I am afraid that this is going to be a classic mockery itself to Singapore for having an important government body run by people of extreme inadequacy and misjudgment, or in other words, a severe lack of interest and basic general knowledge on electric public transport schemes.

If that's the case, I'd think they are simply looking at things too superficially without gathering all the facts. Where on earth do they have factual findings that back such childish notion? People will be laughing at us if our authorities mouth this out. The advice should be given to LTA that more homework should be done before makng such an unfounded statement. Others may laugh at Singapore for believing in this and say that "we are the frogs living in the well". Or in our term - being totally Suaku.

For cities that operate trolleybuses or trams that require overhead wires to be installed there are rules and regulations in place to ensure their "electrically live" infrastructures are safe. As mentioned before, it is already a very mature and proven technology used by hundreds of cities wordwide including those in 1st-world European and American countries.

I'd like to share that the electrically live trolley wires are strung at a height of 5.8 - 6 meters above the street surface. Normally the wires are directly above the lane that buses normally travel on or a full-day bus lane. Even if someone is suicidal on the trolley wires, I personally do not think anyone can reach the live wires that high without any aid.

Even Hong Kong that is regularly battered by strong Typhoons every year there has not been reports on tram overhead lines damages or injuries related to the strong storms. Vancouver has very cold and harsh winters and there has not been reports that their trolleybus wires broke in the blizzard by the thick frost formed on the wires.

Interestingly, our current MRT network run by SMRT poses more danger to passengers should someone accidentally/intentionally fall onto the track and the person may not be aware that there is a live third rail that carries high voltage next to the rail tracks. It is still as dangerous even though the third rail is covered with insulating material with only its metal underside, which is electrically exposed to the spring-loaded carbon contact shoes sticking out from the side of the train wheelsets. Same goes to our LRT tracks where live high voltage power rails are also so close to people. They can just jump in from the platform and accidentally touch it or step on it.

To sum it up, overhead trolley wires are a proven technology widely used in many cities of First World Countries and do not pose safety hazard to pedestrians or other road vehicles alike when proper planning and installation guidelines are adhered to.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 05:24 AM   #18
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Electric trolleybuses can be good but I seriously cannot find a difference between normal buses and trolleybuses. Maybe trolley buses have larger capacity than normal buses but not all I believe.
The intended introduction of electric trolleybuses to Singapore is not to compete with other mass transit schemes like MRT or LRT as they are different modes of public transport and are of very different capacities suited for different transit corridors.

Undoubtedly, I fully agree that the MRT network will and shall continue to play the important role as the backbone of our country's public transport system with LRT and bus services acting as a secondary role to complement it. This is because MRT lines are costly heavy rail lines that cannot possibly reach every corner of Singapore. No matter how extensive our MRT network becomes there is still a need of secondary public transport systems like normal buses, Light Rail Transit/ Trams or Trolleybuses to complement one another.

The roles that trolleybuses can play in Singapore include the following:
  • Substitute some current feeder bus services to form a complete and economically viable trolleybus network serving a sufficiently populated housing estate and interchanging with MRT stations.
  • With the success and operational experiences gained from the trolleybus feeder network in one of our housing estates, trolleybus can then be deployed to substitute some trunk bus services and aim to form a comfortably sized network that would serve downtown Singapore including but not limited to Orchard and our CBD areas. If overhead wires are really a No Go in downtown Singapore, then duo-powered trolleybuses may be deployed to ply such routes so that they switch to battery power during the downtown section where no overhead wires are installed for them. Rome is doing exactly the same.

What transit operators (SBS or SMRT) benefit from operating trolleybuses?
  • Further reduction of dependency on diesel for public buses and promotion of environmental friendly public transport schemes.
  • Long term, trolleybuses have longer life-span than their diesel counterparts and the vehicles cost less to maintain (due to electric motors are principally easier to maintain than the diesel engines)
  • May result in higher ridership due to the aforementioned benefits trolleybuses bring about in the interest of passengers
  • Further promotion to a truly multimodal public transport operator

See Lyon's video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D51AKGYzoRE

Last edited by JERRYLAD; September 20th, 2008 at 06:09 AM. Reason: adding video
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Old September 20th, 2008, 05:57 AM   #19
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And according to your data, do you noticed that they are in western countries where more European style buildings and less tress are. Since largely the buildings colours camouflage the overheard wires but here in Singapore is different, it just somehow become too obvious and is spoiling the view. I know the MRT track concrete is very bare but I believe NEA and LTA is trying to do something with that, last heard was planting very colourful flowers underneath them which really remove the "bare" effect. Also the underground electric tram system is expensive but prove to be workable. The BLRT's failure was more of LTA rushing SMRT to open hence the frequent breakdown as the new LRT has lower breakdown as LTA give more time to SBS to test the system.
I do not agree that colourful European buildings can "camouflage" overhead wires for trams or trolleybuses. Trolley contact lines are copper red with a metal lustrousness when it's newly installed and become black and still lustrous after a period of use. Unless all buildings in European cities are all black in colour then you can say there is some camouflaging effect on the overhead wires. But, I doubt that's the case. Thus, I find your "European buildings camouflaging theory" solely personal and frivolously unfounded.

On the contrary, having more greeneries like trees can be good in making the transit overhead wires less visible and visually intrusive. It is already being used in some cities to conceal their trolleybus wires or tram wires. Horticulturally, Singapore is very experienced in and good at planting trees and selecting the right type of trees from functionality point of view.

Again, it boils down to how closely transit operators and urban planning authorities are willing to work together to integrate the transit infrastructures into the urban landscape in a soothing and harmonious manner. I trust Singapore is capable of doing it well if it wants to.

Last edited by JERRYLAD; September 20th, 2008 at 11:13 AM. Reason: points
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Old September 20th, 2008, 06:52 PM   #20
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Thank you for your valuable sharing and input.

With due respect, as a Singapore citizen who cares about our nation, I must say that If LTA really believes that "Above Ground Overhead Wire = Someone may get injured by electricity" then I am afraid that this is going to be a classic mockery itself to Singapore for having an important government body run by people of extreme inadequacy and misjudgment, or in other words, a severe lack of interest and basic general knowledge on electric public transport schemes.

If that's the case, I'd think they are simply looking at things too superficially without gathering all the facts. Where on earth do they have factual findings that back such childish notion? People will be laughing at us if our authorities mouth this out. The advice should be given to LTA that more homework should be done before makng such an unfounded statement. Others may laugh at Singapore for believing in this and say that "we are the frogs living in the well". Or in our term - being totally Suaku.

For cities that operate trolleybuses or trams that require overhead wires to be installed there are rules and regulations in place to ensure their "electrically live" infrastructures are safe. As mentioned before, it is already a very mature and proven technology used by hundreds of cities wordwide including those in 1st-world European and American countries.

I'd like to share that the electrically live trolley wires are strung at a height of 5.8 - 6 meters above the street surface. Normally the wires are directly above the lane that buses normally travel on or a full-day bus lane. Even if someone is suicidal on the trolley wires, I personally do not think anyone can reach the live wires that high without any aid.

Even Hong Kong that is regularly battered by strong Typhoons every year there has not been reports on tram overhead lines damages or injuries related to the strong storms. Vancouver has very cold and harsh winters and there has not been reports that their trolleybus wires broke in the blizzard by the thick frost formed on the wires.

Interestingly, our current MRT network run by SMRT poses more danger to passengers should someone accidentally/intentionally fall onto the track and the person may not be aware that there is a live third rail that carries high voltage next to the rail tracks. It is still as dangerous even though the third rail is covered with insulating material with only its metal underside, which is electrically exposed to the spring-loaded carbon contact shoes sticking out from the side of the train wheelsets. Same goes to our LRT tracks where live high voltage power rails are also so close to people. They can just jump in from the platform and accidentally touch it or step on it.

To sum it up, overhead trolley wires are a proven technology widely used in many cities of First World Countries and do not pose safety hazard to pedestrians or other road vehicles alike when proper planning and installation guidelines are adhered to.
I don't see anything weird with this, generally overhead wires is not a nice thing to see especially when it get too much. It generally become an eyesore if there is too much. Yes you can say LTA can ask NEA to plant more trees to camouflage them but what is the point of building something just to camouflage and unless you can explain to LTA why trolleybuses is better than normal buses or LRT in terms of usage and pros and cons of it. Planting trees also required money and if we are building in very dense area, I don't think there is much space. I think LTA is also not happy with NEL's overhead wire since it is the main cause of a lot of glitches hence I don't think LTA will be easily convinced and underground electric powered tram is considered by LTA, if I am not wrong.
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