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Trolley-free buses to replace suburban trains

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On-ground public transport of St. Petersburg could soon see a serious transformation. European-type trolleybuses and buses started test runs at the Vasilievskiy Island. Those are different to the Russian ones – and not only in terms of outlook and comfort.

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The main difference is that the new trolleybus could go for up to 25 kilometers without recharging. That means less power cables in the city center. Whether these innovative buses pass their testing will become clear. Mariya Marchenko took a look at these novelties.

Any passenger can ask the driver a question. There’s no segregation here – European openness. But after a week of tests it became clear – separation glass is needed. Not only because passenger chatter puts the driver’s attention off the road. 

Alexander Ivankov, bus driver: “The windshield gets foggy and blurry. Especially when there are a lot of passengers. So its needed for safety” 

The European prototype is made at the “Kirovsky Zavod” subsidiary factory in Germany. The first of its kind – before it St. Petersburg had been buying domestic-made buses. Air conditioner, extra stairs for a wheelchair, spacy interior – all made in a typically German pedantic manner with love to all details.

Its possible that the new spacy means of transport will soon replace suburban trains. And another novelty will hit the streets of the city center – a bus with a carriage. 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, acting governor of St. Petersburg: “During rush hours, such carriage is added to provide more space, as the number of passengers grows. It is left at the final stop whenever there’s no more need for it” 

Today, though, legislation hampers innovation – buses with carriages are outlawed in our country. But St. Petersburg could become a game-changer.

And here’s the first bus which on its own – without electricity that is – reached the Smolniy Palace. It operates on lithium-ionic batteries and can go to a record distance of 25 kilometers. Its younger “brothers” could go for only half-a-kilometer. It is vital that sophisticated nano-technologies survive the rough northern climate. 

Sergey Kitaev, councilor to director of SPbSUV “Gorelektrotrans”: “Lithium-ionic batteries are very sensitive. They need to be cooled off during heat and warmed during cold. We have to make estimations how much maintenance of such buses would cost us”

The only wonder-bus in the city operates on route 17 – taking passengers from the Korablestroyiteley street to Tulskaya street. If this experiment is considered successful, then – in the future – historic center may be free of wires. And there may even be no need at all to build power lines in newer areas. 

Mariya Marchenko, reporter: “Another innovation is bicycle handles. Those will be mounted here, at the body of the bus. Such buses will be on route from subway stations to residential blocs. The first experimental vehicle will hit the road in July”

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