Reprieve for Lecce’s threatened trolleybuses

Trolleybuses in the southern Italian city of Lecce have won a reprieve despite efforts by mayor Carlo Maria Salvemini to scrap the system, which started up properly only six years ago (Global News, November).

The mayor’s plan was rejected by the Italian transport ministry. Officials in Rome said that until the large loan used to build the system runs has been paid off in 2035, Lecce has no right to dismantle the overhead or dispose of the trolleybuses, the news website Lecce Prima reports.

The 28km (17.5mile) system consists of four routes, two of which are circulars. It was built at a cost of 22million (£19.6million) with substantial European Union funding. The trolleybuses got off to a faltering start in 2012 after years of delay and they have been controversial ever since.

Only seven of the 12 Van Hool A330T dualmode rigids supplied from 2005 are in regular use. They are fitted with Vossloh-Kiepe electrics, but also have diesel generators to cover lengthy route sections off-wire.

Salvemini, who was elected last year after campaigning on a platform to close the system, says the poor usage showed the system does not serve the needs of local people who prefer the many motorbus services provided by the municipal SGM.

Local experts argue that, despite the reprieve, the threat of closure remains unless routes and timetable frequencies can be made more attractive.