Basel trolleybus — 65 years
On this day 65 years ago, Basel's trolleybus system opened. Today the system has passed out of official favour and is, indeed, struggling to survive. It comes as little surprise, that the anniversary is passing with little official attention. We are indebted to Basler Zeitung for marking the event with an article and to Pro Trolleybus for publishing the text on their website.
Basel's trolleybus history began almost be accident. Two motor buses were destroyed in a fire in 1940 and it was decided, in view of war related fuel shortages, to replace them by two electro-diesels from FBW (today such vehicles would be called duo buses). Despite their dual system capability, they were used exclusively under wires. The first route connected Claraplatz to Friedhof am Hörnli. In 1948 it was extended from the latter terminus to Habermatten and numbered 31. It was joined by route 34 from Claraplatz to Käferholzstr in 1956. These routes shared overhead from Claraplatz to Rosengartenweg.
Basel's third trolleybus route was born under rather more troubled conditions. Following a heavy referendum campaign over the acquisition of new tram rolling stock, which was defeated on anti-tram sentiment in 1955, the lightly loaded tram route 2 via Johanniterbrücke was replaced by buses in 1966. Electric operation commenced in 1968. Route 33 connected Wanderstrasse - Schützenhaus - Spalentor - Badischer Bhf.
The next extension opened in 1973 when route 31 was extended from Käferholzstr. to Habermatten, so meeting up with route 31.
In more recent years, however, the fortunes of the trolleybus were to take a different turn. The need to extend route 34 led to its dieslisation in 2000. Similarly, itinerary modifications led to the dieselisation of route 33 in 2004. BVB wishes to replace the remaining trolleybus route by gas buses by 2008, however, Pro Trolleybus is campaigning for the retention of this clean and sustainable mode. The organisation has collected sufficient signatures to enforce a referendum on the subject. This will probably be held this winter. Pro Trolleybus has registered significant support for the trolleybus and this is set to be a hot campaign!