Trolleybuses in Santos
A Mafersa/Villares trolleybus in Santos, 2005.
|Locale||Santos, São Paulo, Brazil|
|Operator(s)||Serviço Municipal de Transportes Coletivos (SMTC) (1963–1976)
Companhia Santista de Transportes Coletivos (CSTC) (1976–1998)
|Website||Viação Piracicabana (Portuguese)|
The Santos trolleybus system forms part of the public transport network in Santos, a municipality in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. Opened on 12 August 1963, it presently comprises only one line, and, along with the two São Paulo metropolitan area trolleybus systems, is one of only three trolleybus systems still operating in Brazil.
Initially, only a few trolleybus lines were opened in Santos. They were operated by a batch of Fiat-Alfa Romeo vehicles and equipment based in the Port of Santos during the first year of operation of the service.
At that time, trams were still circulating in Santos. Due to the technical characteristics of the trolley, the then SMTC (Serviço Municipal de Transportes Coletivos) (English: Municipal Collective Transport Service) installed trolleybus lines in streets and avenues where there were no tram lines, apart from some inevitable exceptions.
Although both the trams and trolley buses were powered by direct current electricity, the voltage of the two systems was different: the trolleybuses used two overhead wires: the positive and negative, whereas the tram network used only one wire, the positive pole, with the rails as the negative pole. In many narrow streets, it was not technically feasible to operate trams and trolleybuses together, because a large amount of wiring would be necessary.
Thus, the first trolleybus lines generally covered the streets and avenues where there were no trams. However, there were some points where trolleybuses and trams operated together. These included Bartolomeu de Gusmão Avenue between Osvaldo Cruz Street and Conselheiro Nébias Avenue; Washington Luiz Avenue, between Martim Francisco Street and Dr. Carvalho de Mendonça; Praça da Independência, and several other places where there was the crossing of the overhead wires.
Santos's first trolleybus line, opened on 12 August 1963, was line 5, which linked Rua Martim Afonso with Praça Visconde de Itaboraí, via Avenida Washington Luiz. Almost a year later, on 3 August 1964, a second line, line 53, was added to the system. Nicknamed O Trólebus do Orquidário (English: The Trolleybuses of Orchids), it also followed Avenida Washington Luiz, but proceeded towards the end of the famous tourist spot, at José Menino.
On 5 March 1965, a third line was opened, line 54. Once again, it ran along Avenida Washington Luiz, but this time was bound for Ferry Boat.
On 21 October 1966, line 8 was opened. Its route included that of three tram lines (5, 8 and 15), and was bound for the Macuco, via Mercado. Shortly afterwards, on 1 December 1966, trams stopped running in Avenida Conselheiro Nébias. Following the removal of the tramway wiring, that avenue then became the central terminus of the trolleybus system, with overhead trolleybus wires, new lighting, and asphalt paving.
In early 1967, Avenida Conselheiro Nébias had its trolleybus overhead wires installed, initially to Avenida Afonso Pena. On 26 January 1967, the first line of that avenue was inaugurated: line 45 to Praça Visconde de Itaboraí (via Pena). In April 1967, with the installation of trolleybus wires along the rest of Avenida Conselheiro Nébias, came the opening of line 44 to Praia do Boqueirão (on 11 April) and line 4 (on 13 April). Upon the entry of line 4 into service, the earlier line 54 was closed.
On 6 October 1967, line 40 was added to the system. This line also followed Avenida Conselheiro Nébias, bound for Gonzaga and Praça da Independência, and was later extended to Orquidário. Also in 1967, overhead trolleybus wires were installed on Avenida Nossa Senhora de Fátima. It was planned to import over 25 trolleybus to operate under these new wires. However, the municipality then decided to purchase diesel buses instead, and so the overhead wires were never used, with no additional trolleybuses being imported. The wiring remained installed, but unused, for more than four years.
In 1970, line 44 was extended to the Praça Coração de Maria, in the Ponta da Praia. That same year, line 43 was created, to link Orquidário with Ponta da Praia. This line operated only on Sundays and holidays, and was aimed at tourists. In November 1970, the route of line 5 was changed, to pass through Praça da Independência.
By late 1970, most of the trolleybuses were out of service, because of their poor state of repair. In 1972, trolleybus no 542 was converted to diesel, as a prototype. In that form, it remained in operation for many years and, along with the other 49 Italian made vehicles, travelled the trolleybus lines.
In 1976, the Companhia Santista de Transportes Coletivos (CSTC) (English:Santista Public Transport Company) was created to operate public transport services in Santos, replacing the former SMTC. Line 45, considered surplus to requirements, was abandoned in mid-1977. The following year, lines 40 and 53 were similarly closed, this time due to traffic in the opposite direction on Avenue Marechal Floriano Peixoto. The remaining trolleybuses were used to operate a newly created line 50, a remake of the old line 54 (Washington Luiz–Ferry Boat). By then, it was clear that the fleet was diminishing, due to shortage of parts, wear and weathering.
In 1979, a program of revitalization of the trolleybus system began. A total of 25 existing trolleybuses were renovated, other trolleybuses were gradually retired, and eight new trolleybuses were acquired. With the changes in the number of trolleybuses in circulation, some lines were shut down but later revived.
In 1980, line 44 was reactivated as a line to Orquidário, via Rua Euclides da Cunha, but not in the opposite direction. Later that year, the trolleybus line running in the opposite direction along Avenida Epitácio Pessoa was relocated to the Avenida Bartolomeu de Gusmão. On 26 January 1988, line 20, which had previously been operated by conventional bus, was electrified. The same day, the new Mafersa trolleybuses went into operation. A new express route, line 43, was opened to link Orquidário with Ferry Boat, and line 30, which connected the city centre with Gonzaga via Avenida Washington Luiz, was operated by conventional buses supplemented by trolleybuses, which terminated in the Praça José Bonifácio.
Additionally, work began on the installation of overhead wire to create a trolleybus line to the Northwest Zone, but this work was never completed.
In early 1990, the CSTC began to experience a serious crisis, resulting in the lack of maintenance of the Fiat-Alfa Romeo trolleybuses. Gradually that part of the fleet was scrapped.
In September 1993, lines 5,8, 40 and 53 were converted to conventional bus lines.
Trolleybuses ceased running on line 4 in 1996, when there was an auction of remaining Fiat-Alfa Romeo trolleybuses and almost all the Marcopolo vehicles. The trolleybus fleet was reduced to only six Mafersa trolleybuses and the Marcopolo trolleybus. Just a single trolleybus line, line 20, remained.
In 1998, the Viação Piracicabana company took over mass transit in the city, including the seven trolleybuses of line 20. In 2005, the Marcopolo vehicle was withdrawn, leaving the six Mafersa trolleybuses. Line 20 continues to be operated by the Mafersa trolleybuses and also by diesel vehicles.
As at 2011, line 20 was the only trolleybus line operating in Santos, with the six trolleybuses for its commercial operation. The line also had one municipal diesel bus.
Due to the expansion works on the Tourist Tram, the terminus of line 20 was shifted temporarily in September 2008 from Praça Mauá to Praça Rui Barbosa, the intended terminus of the new tram line. In October 2009, after completion of the tramway overhead lines, the terminus of trolleybus line 20 was moved back to Mauá.
Tourist line proposal
The city of Santos has also floated the possibility of a tourist trolleybus line. In 2008, there was a proposal for heritage trolleybuses to operate on a line supplementing the existing system of tourist trams in the city. The Mafersa trolleybuses already operating in the city could possibly be used for this proposed service, and for students.
In addition to the Mafersa trolleybuses, there is a body of an old Fiat-Alfa Romeo trolleybus on the premises of the old CSTC, and some trolleybuses from the São Paulo system, that could be renovated and incorporated into the tourist fleet.
The original Santos trolleybus fleet was 50 Fiat-Alfa Romeo Marelli Pistoiese trolleybuses imported from Italy, with capacity for 95 passengers (52 seated and 43 standing), similar to the imported trolleybuses used in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, Bahia.
Beginning in 1979, the revitalization of the trolleybus system began with the renovation of 25 existing Fiat-Alfa Romeo trolleybus. During little more than three years, trolleybuses were gradually being retired. In the same period, new Marcopolo vehicles were also acquired; a prototype, followed by a total of seven production units. In 1987, six new Mafersa trolleybuses were purchased.
In 1996, there was an auction of the remaining Fiat-Alfa Romeo trolleybuses and almost all of the Marcopolo trolleybuses. The trolleybus fleet was reduced to only 6 Mafersa vehicles, and one Marcopolo trolleybus.
In 2005, the remaining Marcopolo trolleybus was retired, leaving only the Mafersa trolleybuses in the fleet.
Santos has one trolleybus depot, at the end of Avenida Francisco Manoel, next to the Santa Casa de Santos.
Media related to Trolleybuses in Santos at Wikimedia Commons
- "Trolleybus city: Santos". Trolleymotion.
- Santos database / photo gallery and Santos trolleybus list at Urban Electric Transit – in various languages, including English.
- Trólebus de Santos - unofficial site (Portuguese)
This article is based upon a translation of the Portuguese language version as at September 2011.