Something Muni does well: Trolleybusses

1 California trolley bus

I am so fond of ragging on San Francisco’s poorly managed Municipal Railway that I often overlook Muni’s remarkable, world-class achievements. (Yes, they really do have some remarkable, world-class achievements.) This post is a first attempt at fixing my glaring oversight.

Muni’s extensive trolleybus system is a modern treasure. Muni claims to hold the largest trolley-bus fleet in the US and Canada. Trolleybusses are efficient, consume little fuel, recharge via regenerative braking, require little maintenance, are quiet, and produce zero localized pollution.

  • Electric motors are more efficient than diesel motors, especially climbing steep grades.
  • Trolleybusses offer ZERO local emissions. Diesel fuel engines on the other hand, the most common local locomotive for municipal transit busses nationwide, produce a fine particulate matter byproduct that may be a health risk.
  • Trolleybusses are not tied to any particular energy generation source. The local transit agency can purchase power from private generators, government-owned generators, create their own local power plant, use solely green power, etc.

Keep up the good work, Muni. Maybe the 38-Geary, the highest ridership bus line east of the Mississippi, can convert to a trolleybus when it hatches from its BRT cocoon.


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