Trolleybuses in Vancouver

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Vancouver trolleybus system
Vancouver E40LFR trolleybus 2214.jpg
New Flyer E40LFR at Marine Drive Station.
Locale Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Open 16 August 1948
Operator(s) British Columbia Electric Railway
BC Hydro
Greater Vancouver Transit System
Urban Transit Authority
BC Transit
Coast Mountain Bus Company
(since 1999)
Electrification 600 V DC
Website Coast Mountain Bus Company

The Vancouver trolleybus system forms part of the public transport network serving Metro Vancouver, in the province of British Columbia, Canada.

In operation since 1948, the system presently comprises 13 routes, and is managed by the Coast Mountain Bus Company, a subsidiary of TransLink. It uses a fleet of 262 trolleybuses, of which 74 are articulated vehicles.


Following a formal opening ceremony on 13 August 1948,[1] regular service on Vancouver's first trolleybus routes began on 16 August 1948,[2][3] operated by the British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER).[1] Two routes opened on that day, 6-Fraser and 15-Cambie, and routes 5-Robson and 8-Davie followed later the same year.[4] All of these first routes had been conversions of streetcar lines except for the Cambie route. Conversion of several more streetcar and motorbus routes quickly followed, and by 1953, the trolleybus system had 16 routes.[4] Three more trolleybus lines were created in 1955, when the last streetcar line, Hastings, closed and was replaced by the 14-Hastings trolleybus route and two branches, routes 16-Renfrew and 24-Nanaimo. This brought the network to what was, for several years, its maximum extent, with 19 routes.[4]

Preserved CCF-Brill T44 No. 2040.

The service was provided by CCF-Brill trolleybuses, with 82 of model T44 acquired in 1947 and 1948, and 245 of the larger model T48 (and variants T48A and T48SP) acquired between 1949 and 1954.[4] With the delivery of the last new Brill trolleybus, in January 1954, Vancouver had the largest trolleybus fleet in Canada, 327 units.[5]

The fleet later included 25 1947-built Pullman-Standard trolleybuses acquired secondhand from Birmingham, Alabama, which entered service in March 1957.[6] However, drivers considered the Pullmans awkward to operate, and the vehicles were found to be surplus to the company's needs; they were taken out of service in 1960[6] and scrapped in 1961.[4] In the mid-1970s, the remaining T44-model trolleybuses were retired, and in their place 50 new trolleybuses were acquired from Flyer Industries. Model E800, these were new vehicles except for their propulsion systems, which used recycled General Electric equipment[7] from the Brill T44s. The Flyer E800s were delivered in late 1975 and 1976. Their use of recycled 1940s electrical equipment resulted in a shorter lifespan, and they were withdrawn in 1985, but around 25 returned to service for Expo 86,[8] and the last few were in occasional service until January 1987.

In the early 1980s, the system acquired 244 new Flyer E901A/E902 trolleybuses.[9] These began to enter service in mid-1982, gradually replacing the CCF-Brill vehicles. The last use of a Brill trolleybus in service occurred on 25 March 1984.[10] After withdrawal of the last E800s, in early 1987, Flyer E901A/E902 vehicles made up the whole of the Vancouver trolleybus fleet for almost 20 years.

Several extensions to the system were constructed and opened in 1986, in connection with the opening of the SkyTrain rapid-transit system. Most were short diversions of routes at their outer ends, to terminate at new SkyTrain stations, including Nanaimo Station, 29th Avenue Station[8] and Joyce Station,[8] but the extension of route 19-Kingsway to Metrotown was 3.0 miles (5 km) long and was the first extension of Vancouver's trolleybus system outside the city of Vancouver, into Burnaby.[11] An extension from Blanca Street to the University of British Columbia opened in September 1988.[11]

In the latter half of the 2000s (decade), the fleet was renewed again. New Flyer Industries in Winnipeg won the contract for the supply of the new vehicles, with electrical equipment by the German company Vossloh Kiepe.[3] Eighty of the old Flyer E901A/E902 buses were sold to the Mendoza trolleybus system in Argentina.[12] Vancouver now has a fleet of 262 low-floor trolleybuses, supplied under the New Flyer contract between 2005 and the end of 2009.[3]


Flyer E901A/E902 trolleybus in front of Rogers Building, April 2006.

The 13 routes comprising the present Vancouver trolleybus system are:

Note: Since 15 April 2013, route 4's eastern half (Downtown–Powell) and route 7's eastern half (Downtown–Nanaimo Station) are temporarily served only by diesel buses, because of an overpass construction project on Powell Street. This situation is projected to last until at least mid-2014.[13]

Current fleet[edit]

New Flyer E60LFR on route 20.

Vancouver's current fleet of trolleybuses is made up of the following types:

  • New Flyer E40LFR low-floor trolleybuses - 188 units
  • New Flyer E60LFR low-floor articulated trolleybuses - 74 units

The original order for these trolleybuses, placed in late 2003, was for 188 E40LFR units and 40 E60LFR units.[14] The first E40LFR was delivered in July 2005,[15] and the rest of the 40-foot (12 m) units were delivered between August 2006[16] and September 2007.[17]

The first articulated, E60LFR, trolleybus arrived in Vancouver in January 2007.[18] TransLink decided to order an additional 34 articulated units, making the total 74, and delivery of the 73 production-series E60LFR units took place between October 2007 and autumn 2009.


Three of Vancouver's CCF-Brill trolleybuses, 1947 T44 No. 2040 and 1954 T48A Nos. 2414 and 2416, have been preserved by the Transit Museum Society,[2] as have 1976-built former Flyer E800 No. 2649 (converted into a diesel bus in the 1980s)[7] and 1983 Flyer E902 trolleybus 2805.

See also[edit]



  • Kelly, Brian; Francis, Daniel (1990). Transit in British Columbia: The First Hundred Years. Madeira Park (BC), Canada: Harbour Publishing. ISBN 1-55017-021-X. 


  1. ^ a b Kelly and Francis, p. 102.
  2. ^ a b Murray, Alan (2000). World Trolleybus Encyclopaedia, pp. 78, 148. Yateley, Hampshire, UK: Trolleybooks. ISBN 0-904235-18-1.
  3. ^ a b c "Trolleybus city: Vancouver Kanada". TrolleyMotion website. TrolleyMotion. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Sebree, Mac; and Ward, Paul (1974). The Trolley Coach in North America, pp. 338–342. Los Angeles: Interurbans. LCCN 74-20367.
  5. ^ Kelly and Francis, p. 103.
  6. ^ a b Kelly and Francis, p. 106.
  7. ^ a b McIntyre, Angus (January–February 1999). "Vancouver Celebrates 50 Years". Trolleybus Magazine No. 223, pp. 3–5. ISSN 0266-7452.
  8. ^ a b c Trolleybus Magazine No. 148 (July–August 1986), p. 92. ISSN 0266-7452.
  9. ^ "Letzte Fahrt für die Flyer" [Last trip for the Flyers]. TrolleyMotion. 28 April 2008. Retrieved 21 February 2014.  (German)
  10. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 135 (May–June 1984), p. 69.
  11. ^ a b Kelly and Francis, p. 110–111.
  12. ^ Pabillano, Jhenifer (December 8, 2008). "Retired trolleys make their way to Mendoza". TransLink. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  13. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 309 (May–June 2013), p. 76.
  14. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 254 (March–April 2004), p. 43. ISSN 0266-7452.
  15. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 263 (September–October 2005), p. 117.
  16. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 270 (November–December 2006), p. 135.
  17. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 277 (January–February 2008), p. 15
  18. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 273 (May–June 2007), p. 62.

External links[edit]

Media related to Trolleybuses in Vancouver at Wikimedia Commons