Trolleybuses in Shanghai

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Shanghai trolleybus system
Shanghai trolleybus no. H0A-053, on line 14.
Locale Shanghai, China
Open 15 November 1914; 102 years ago (1914-11-15)
Status Open
Operator(s) Shanghai Bus Tram Co Ltd
Website Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority (Chinese)

The Shanghai trolleybus system is a system of trolleybuses forming part of the public transport network in the city of Shanghai, People's Republic of China. Of more than 300 trolleybus systems in operation worldwide (as of 2011),[1] the Shanghai system is the oldest.[2][3] The system turned 100 years old in November 2014 and was the first trolleybus system anywhere in the world to reach that milestone.[4]

For many years, the Shanghai system was also one of the largest in the world,[5] once comprising more than 20 routes and more than 900 vehicles, but it currently has about 12 routes and a fleet of fewer than 200 vehicles. Those smaller figures still make it one of the largest systems in operation outside the former Soviet Union countries.


One of Shanghai's original Railless trolleybuses in 1917.

The system's original operator was the Shanghai Electric Construction Company, which also operated trams in what was then the city's International sector.[6] In its early years, the system had two routes, served by seven vehicles.

The first trolleybus service, which began operation on 15 November 1914, was along Fokien Road (now Fujian Road, or Fujian lu); service along Pekin Road (now Beijing Road, or Beijing lu) was introduced in 1915.[7]

As of 1984,[7] and still in 2003, the two original sections were still covered by portions of existing routes 14 and 16, respectively.[8]

In its first 13 days of operation, the system carried 200,000 passengers, and came to be regarded as eminently suited to Shanghai's busy streets. However, the service then had to be temporarily abandoned while the roads on which they operated were strengthened, as the trolleybuses had been pressing down the surface stones with which the roads were paved.[9]

A major expansion approved by the municipal council in 1924 would soon see the network expand from 3.5 km (2.2 mi) to 33.0 km (20.5 mi),[7] and the company purchased 100 new trolleybuses for this expansion.

As of 1985, more than 40 percent of all passenger journeys on the Shanghai City Transport Company's system were made on trolleybuses,[10] even though trolleybuses only made up about 20 percent of the company's fleet (the remainder were diesel buses).[10] There were 19 trolleybus routes at that time, served by 860 articulated vehicles.[10]

In 2004, the system was reported to comprise more than 20 routes, using a fleet of almost 900 vehicles,[3] but subsequently both numbers have significantly declined. The active fleet – the number of vehicles still in regular use – totalled a little more than 200 at the end of 2009.[11] The Shanghai trolleybus system turned 100 years old on 15 November 2014; it was the first trolleybus system anywhere in the world to reach that milestone.[4]


As of 2011, the system was made up of the following lines:

A Youngman trolleybus operating Route 13 in 2015.
A trolleybus operating route 23.
Line Route Length
06路 (line 06) Changbai Road / Tumen Road – Wujin Road / North Henan Road 08.925 km
08路 (line 08) Songpan Road / Yangshupu Road – Sanmen Road / Shiguang Road 07.655 km
13路 (line 13) Tilanqiao – Zhongshan Park Metro Station 12.305 km
14路 (line 14) Jiangpu Road / North No.2 Zhongshan Road – Dongxinqiao 09.450 km
15路 (line 15) North Zhejiang Road / East Tianmu Road – Shanghai Stadium 10.575 km
19路 (line 19) Putuo Road / Jiangning Road – Tangshan Road / Tongbei Road 10.500 km
20路 (line 20) Jiujiang Road / The BundZhongshan Park (Wanhangdu Road) 07.700 km
22路 (line 22) Changbai Road / Tumen Road – Minhang Road / Changzhi Road 08.831 km
23路 (line 23) South No.1 Zhongshan Road / Xizang Road – Xinkang Li 09.850 km
24路 (line 24) Doushi Street / East Fuxing Road – Changshou Village 10.184 km
25路 (line 25) Pingliang Road / Jungong Road – Zhapu Road / North Suzhou Road 10.860 km
28路 (line 28) Baotou Road / Nenjiang Road – Tilanqiao 11.875 km

Lines 11路 (11) and 26路 (26) were also operated by trolleybuses until about 2008, after which they were converted to permit them to be operated by super-capacitor buses.[12] Super-capacitor buses are also electrically powered, but their electrical energy is supplied at charging stations at bus stops and termini (via so-called electric umbrellas), instead of by overhead wires. The energy is then stored between charging stations by onboard super capacitors.[13]


A Railless vehicle in the 1920s.
One of the AEC trolleybuses in service.
A Shanghai-built SK5105GP-model trolleybus in 2007.

The initial, two-route, system that opened in 1914–15 used a fleet of seven trolleybuses. These used chassis built by Railless Electric Traction, in England, and fitted with motors and controllers supplied by Dick, Kerr & Co.. Shipped to China in 1914, they were then fitted with bodies fabricated locally by the Shanghai Electric Construction Company, the system's operator at the time. These trolleybuses had three separate compartments, for first-, second- and third-class passengers. The driver was semi-exposed in an open platform at the front.

In 1921, one complete trolleybus was shipped from England. This had the same chassis and propulsion but received a body made by Short Brothers. In 1922, the company purchased another seven Railless chassis with propulsion by English Electric (which had taken over Dick, Kerr & Co. in 1919), and fitted them with locally built bodies, to an improved design for which the solitary all-British-built vehicle may have served, in effect, as a pattern.[7] All of these early trolleybuses had solid tyres.

In 1924, following the adoption of a major expansion plan, the Shanghai system placed an order for 100 new trolleybuses, which stood for the next 10 years as the single largest order ever placed for trolleybuses. These vehicles had chassis by Associated Equipment Company (AEC) and propulsion equipment from other British companies, and were fitted with Shanghai-built bodies.[7] Approximately 30 more of the same type were purchased later.[5]

Since the 1950s, almost all trolleybuses entering service on the Shanghai system have been built in Shanghai itself,[5] mostly by a vehicle manufacturing division – commonly referred to in English transport publications simply as "Shanghai" – of the transport operating company, Shanghai City Transport Company.

Production of trolleybuses at the Shanghai factory began in 1951, and the factory has also supplied vehicles to the trolleybus systems in several other Chinese cities. As of 1983, the factory was capable of producing 300 trolleybuses per year.[14]

The first articulated trolleybuses entered service in 1962 or 1963. These were Shanghai-built model SK663, which gradually replaced many two-axle vehicles and went on to become, at one point, the most numerous model of trolleybus in Shanghai's then-large fleet. The SK663 remained in production until 1969, replaced in 1970 by the SK561G, and later by a succession of newer models of articulated trolleybus.[14]

In the early 1980s, more than 800 of the fleet of about 850–900 trolleybuses were articulated, giving Shanghai the distinction of having more articulated trolleybuses than any other city in the world.[7] About 150 of these were the surviving SK663 examples, dating from the 1960s. The last two-axle vehicles were withdrawn in 1983,[14] after which the fleet was 100 percent articulated vehicles, with a total of around 860.[10]

Several years later, the operator began purchasing new two-axle trolleybuses, and these gradually replaced all of the articulated vehicles. By at least 2009, when the operating fleet numbered about 280, all vehicles were two-axle.[12]

Since 2001, all new trolleybuses have been air-conditioned. The last non-air-conditioned units were withdrawn in late 2009. At that time, the fleet size stood at a little over 200 vehicles.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Webb, Mary (ed.) (2011). Jane's Urban Transport Systems 2011-2012, pp. "[23]" and "[24]" (in foreword). Coulsdon, Surrey (UK): Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-2954-8.
  2. ^ Murray, Alan (2000). World Trolleybus Encyclopaedia, pp. 8, 57 and 101. UK: Trolleybooks. ISBN 0-904235-18-1.
  3. ^ a b "Shanghai Anniversary" (Nov.-Dec. 2004). Trolleybus Magazine No. 258, pp. 134–135. ISSN 0266-7452.
  4. ^ a b Trolleybus Magazine No. 320 (March–April 2015), p. 54. National Trolleybus Association (UK). ISSN 0266-7452.
  5. ^ a b c Murray, Alan (2000). World Trolleybus Encyclopaedia. Yateley, Hampshire, UK: Trolleybooks. ISBN 0-904235-18-1.
  6. ^ Humphreys, E. M. H. (May–June 1984). "China 1983, Part 2: Shanghai and Xi'an". Trolleybus Magazine No. 135, pp. 49–55.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Trolleybus Magazine No. 136 (July–August 1984), p. 95. National Trolleybus Association (UK). ISSN 0266-7452.
  8. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 257 (Sep.-Oct. 2004), pp. 113–116 (full route map of the system as of 2003).
  9. ^ "Railless Traction in Shanghai, China". Electric Railway Journal. New York Ciy: McGraw Publishing Company, Inc. XLV: 592. March 20, 1915. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d Bushell, Chris; and Stonham, Peter (eds.) (1986). Jane's Urban Transport Systems 1986, pp. 327–328. London: Jane's Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7106-0826-8.
  11. ^ a b Trolleybus Magazine No. 290 (March–April 1990), p. 40.
  12. ^ a b Trolleybus Magazine No. 288 (Nov.-Dec. 1989), p. 138.
  13. ^ "Buses: Clean and Green, Electric Buses". Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c Suffolk, David M. (Nov.-Dec. 1984). "More About China". Trolleybus Magazine No. 138, pp. 121–125.

External links[edit]

Media related to Trolleybuses in Shanghai at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 31°12′N 121°30′E / 31.200°N 121.500°E / 31.200; 121.500