Trolley buses in Vancouver

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Vancouver trolley bus system
Vancouver E40LFR trolleybus 2214.jpg
LocaleVancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Open16 August 1948
Electrification600 V DC parallel overhead lines

The Vancouver trolley bus system forms part of the TransLink public transport network serving Metro Vancouver in the Canadian province of British Columbia. 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 trolley buses, of which 74 are articulated vehicles.


Following a formal opening ceremony on 13 August 1948,[1] regular service on Vancouver's first trolley bus 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 trolley bus system had 16 routes.[4] Three more trolley bus lines were created in 1955, when the last streetcar line, Hastings, closed and was replaced by the 14 Hastings trolley bus 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 trolley buses, 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 trolley bus, in January 1954, Vancouver had the largest trolley bus fleet in Canada, 327 units.[5]

The fleet later included 25 1947-built Pullman-Standard trolley buses 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 trolley buses were retired, and in their place 50 new trolley buses were acquired from Flyer Industries. Flyer Model E800s were new vehicles except for the propulsion system, which used recycled General Electric equipment[7] from the earlier Brill T-44s. 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.

One of the 50 Flyer E800 vehicles, built in 1975–1976 but equipped with recycled propulsion equipment

In the early 1980s, the system acquired 245 new Flyer E901A/E902 trolley buses.[9] These began to enter service in mid-1982, gradually replacing the CCF-Brill vehicles. The last use of a Brill trolley bus 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 trolley bus fleet for almost 20 years. E902 No. 2937 was irreparably damaged by an electrical fire in 1987, reducing the total number of trolley buses to 244.[11]

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 5 kilometres (3.0 mi) long and was the first extension of Vancouver's trolley bus system outside the city of Vancouver, into Burnaby.[12] An extension from Blanca Street to the University of British Columbia opened in September 1988.[12]

From 2005 to 2009, 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] In December 2008, 80 of the old Flyer E901A/E902 buses were sold to the Mendoza trolleybus system in Argentina.[13] Vancouver now has a fleet of 262 low-floor trolley buses, supplied under the New Flyer contract between 2005 and the end of 2009.[3]


Flyer E902 trolley bus on the Granville Mall in 1985

Current routes[edit]

The 13 routes that make up the present Vancouver trolley bus system are:

Awaiting reinstatement[edit]

Former routes[edit]

  • 15 Cambie – Downtown (trolley service discontinued September 2005 for Canada Line construction)

Current fleet[edit]

Vancouver's current fleet of trolley buses, all built by New Flyer, is made up of the following types:

Units Year Model Length Type Image Notes
2005 E40LF 12 metres (40 ft) low-floor trolley bus, demonstrator First New Flyer bus with "LFR" styling
2006–2007 E40LFR 12 metres (40 ft) low-floor trolley bus Stanley Park Loop, July 2011.jpg
2006–2009 E60LFR 18 metres (60 ft) low-floor articulated trolley bus Vancouver trolley bus - New Flyer E60LFR.jpg

The original order for these trolley buses, placed in late 2003, was for 188 conventional and 40 articulated buses.[16] The first, a model E40LF, was delivered in July 2005,[17] and the rest of the 40-footers, now designated E40LFR, were delivered between August 2006[18] and September 2007.[19]

The first articulated arrived in Vancouver in January 2007.[20] 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 trolley buses and one former trolley bus that was converted to diesel running have been preserved by the Transit Museum Society.[2] The operational ones see occasional use for special events and on enthusiast fan trips. Several Brill trolley buses are stored in the ghost town of Sandon awaiting restoration.[21] The Sandon buses were acquired from the former fleets of Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, and Regina.[22]

Year Builder Model Preserved Image Notes
1947 CCF-Brill T44 2040 Vancouver CCF-Brill T44 2040 at VTC II.jpg
1954 CCF-Brill T48A 2416 Vancouver Trolleybus 2416 - Fan Trip. (30476529347).jpg
1976 Flyer E800 2649 Race Special (2286992019).jpg Preserved 2649 was converted into a diesel bus in the 1980s but retained its trolley poles for winter wire-de-icing duty[7]
1983 Flyer E902 2805 Marpole Loop -2 (2452998587).jpg Not operable; stripped of most of its electrical components by thieves in 2010[23]

See also[edit]


  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. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  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. ^ "Vancouver Brill Farewell". Trolleybus Magazine No. 134 (March–April 1984), p. 41.
  10. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 135 (May–June 1984), p. 69.
  11. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 191 (September–October 1993), p. 131.
  12. ^ a b Kelly and Francis, p. 110–111.
  13. ^ Pabillano, Jhenifer (December 8, 2008). "Retired trolleys make their way to Mendoza". TransLink. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  14. ^ Susan Lazaruk. "TransLink taking trolley buses off busy Broadway for next five years". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  15. ^ Susan Lazaruk. "TransLink taking trolley buses off busy Broadway for next five years". Vancouver Province. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  16. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 254 (March–April 2004), p. 43. ISSN 0266-7452.
  17. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 263 (September–October 2005), p. 117.
  18. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 270 (November–December 2006), p. 135.
  19. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 277 (January–February 2008), p. 15
  20. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 273 (May–June 2007), p. 62.
  21. ^ McElroy, Justin (June 23, 2014). "Ghost town mysteries: the old trolley buses of Sandon, B.C." Global News. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Brill Trolley Bus Collection". Sandon BC. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  23. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 292 (July–August 2010), p. 88.


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

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