Smooth Operator: Guided Trolleybuses Debut in Bologna, Italy
A new trolleybus corridor in Bologna, Italy tests new optical guide technology. Image from Roberto Amori on YouTube.

A new trolleybus corridor in Bologna, Italy tests new guide technology. Image from Roberto Amori on YouTube.

Guidance improves the performance and reliability of a bus or trolleybus corridor, allowing for fairly smooth approach to the bus stops or stations, with very small gaps between the platforms and the bus floor. Guidance systems protect the vehicles from scratches and make the bus systems more accessible and attractive, but they come at a high cost.

There are three main types of guide technology for buses and trolleybuses: physical, electromagnetic, and optical. Physical guidance has been in place for some decades, with the main applications in Adelaide, Australia and Essen, Germany, as well as  queue jumpers in Leeds, UK (for detailed articles, see “Special Feature On Kerb Guided Buses (O-Bahn)” and “Evidence on Performance.”)

Electromagnetic guidance is used in Eindoven, The Netherlands and it is proposed, but not yet implemented, in Istanbul, Turkey. Optical guidance has been applied in Rouen, France; Las Vegas, Nevada; Castellón, Spain; and now, it’s being tried in Bologna, Italy.

This snazzy video by Roberto Amori shows how the optical guidance system performs in a new corridor in Bologna:

BRTs in developing countries are not considering guidance systems at this time, due to financial limitations. It would be interesting to evaluate if there are economic advantages and start considering them as part of the BRT systems package for developing cities.

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