2013-05-10 Appeal from UITP to the Mayor

UITPWe have got an appeal signed by the Secretary-General Alain Flausch of the International Association of Public Transport (Union Internationale des Transports Publics, UITP), sent in 10th of May, 2013 to the Mayor of Vilnius  Arturas Zuokas, also addressed to the Board Chairman of “Vilniaus Viešasis Transportas”  Romas Adomavicius and Minister of Transport of the Republic of Lithuania Rimantas Sinkevicius.

We are presenting this letter for Your attention.

Mr. Artūras ZUOKAS


Vilnius City Municipality

Konstitucijos pr. 3,

09601 Vilnius, LITHUANIA

Brussels, 10 May 2013

Dear Mr. Mayor,

On behalf of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and the whole public transport community, I would like to express my concerns with the latest plans of Vilnius Municipality Administration to significantly diminish the trolleybus system in the capital.

Vilnius is regarded as one of the biggest trolleybus network in Eastern Europe. With a 300-strong vehicle fleet, it carries more than 300.000 passengers daily on 21 routes with a total length of nearly 500 km. As in other Eastern European cities, Vilnius trolleybuses enjoy high modal split and are genuinely perceived by citizens as meeting rising urban mobility requirements: affordability, regularity, safety, environment-friendliness and quality of life.

Initiatives aiming at reducing the trolleybus system In Vilnius seem not to be in line with the current level of understanding of emerging urban mobility trends. Even though a number of cities worldwide decided to remove electric transport networks in the 1950s and 1960s, they were forced to restore these systems in the later period. One of the most important factors behind reopened, newly created or modernized trolleybus networks was their cost effectiveness and the reduced environmental impact of trolleybuses. If the municipal plan of multiple lines closures and vehicles reduction will become a reality, Vilnius, with the population of 523.000, should expect dramatic increase in carbon footprint and car ownership as well as a higher congestion level based on a partial or ever temporary transfer from trolleybuses into diesel bus lines.

It is worth mentioning that UITP regards trolleybuses as an important element of the PTx2 Strategy of doubling the global market share of public transport trips by 2025. Nowadays, in a number of cities worldwide, trolleybuses serve as the city’s “business card” and are the best ‘green’ transport mode available. However, this demands both fleet modernization and infrastructure upgrading, but also the building of a positive image of public transport as an attractive, affordable and quality-driven mean of urban mobility.

In case of Vilnius, there are a number of EU structural funds and bank loans available that could be used to renew rolling stock and invest in necessary infrastructural works and image-building campaigns. Funding rather expensive tram networks is just a partial solution, particularly in a city, where the trolleybus system has been successfully operating for nearly 60 years. It Is worth emphasizing that electric mobility has been recognized by the European Commission as the future of urban public transport (see the EU Directive 2009/33/EU on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles). The trolleybus scheme fits perfectly into this picture.

Especially trolleybuses prove very often to be a flagship of sustainable mobility in many Eastern European cities, the best example of which is Gdynia, Szeged or Brno. However, this positive trend also involves better urban development strategies, new managerial culture, customer-driven approach and political commitment. All of these ensure that electric urban public transport can prevail as the fundament of green and sustainable urban mobility.

Under the auspices of UITP’s Bus Committee, a standing international trolleybus working group has been established in 2004. This group works on many technical and operative themes, focusing on international exchange and peer to peer project teams under the active chairmanship of Dr. Sergey Korolkov from Moscow.

On behalf of the whole public transport community, including 3,400 member organizations in 92 countries, I would be pleased to offer you our full support and assistance regarding the future of the trolleybus system in Vilnius. Your beautiful, young and dynamic city deserves a cost-effective, green and sustainable transport solution that trolleybuses offer. It is a ticket for a better future.

Looking forward to your hopefully positive answer, I remain

Yours sincerely,

Alain Flausch

UITP Secretary General

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7 thoughts on “2013-05-10 Appeal from UITP to the Mayor

    1. The Prague trolleybus sirvuves in Crimea, where the continue to use Škoda models. (One recent addition is a customized Zlata Praha trolleybus, complete with a bar serving Czech beers 🙂 ).BTW Okudzhava’s song title is often misunderstood as “the last chance”, as some sort of an anguish about something which is never more. But of course his “Last Trolleybus” is just last for this night, and it will be there again tomorrow night, and it’s about hope and healing rather than about loss.

    1. I simply don’t buy this bit about pelope hate the overhead wire . I’m sure you can always find someone to hate the wire, but that’s a far cry from actually establishing that everybody hates the wire.In the 60s Seattle decided the wires should be put underground (not the bus wires, silly, the electricity to houses). This was going to be great, so scenic, and low-maintenance too. I lived on Westlake N when they undergrounded the wiring. Guess what- the wire wasn’t the ugly part! Then, for the next four or five years, every time it rained heavily, the underground vaults kicked out.And it turned out almost nobody in Seattle wanted to join an LID and pay to have the wires undergrounded in their neighborhood. So most of Seattle already has a fairly generous amount of wire spiderwebbed through it. I don’t think most pelope would notice if you added overhead wire for buses, and, guess what?, even today it still wouldn’t be the ugly part of the cityscape.It also might help if it were explained more often that this is how we keep the buses rolling even when oil prices triple and studies have proven that the diesel exhaust is way worse for your health than we thought . Both of which happen to be true.

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