By Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - Vilnius needs new trolleybuses and will announce a competition regarding such a purchase. Meanwhile, operational tests of some new trolleybuses from various foreign firms will be made to get more information about their technical suitability for the streets of Vilnius.
On July 8, Vilnius Vice Mayor Romas Adomavicius and Vidmantas Romualdas Striska, who is director general of the Vilniaus Troleibusai company (owned by the Vilnius municipality), took part in the presentation of the Belarusian-made trolleybus Vitovt. The trolleybus name is quite symbolic to Lithuanians: Vitovt is the Belarusian and Russian version for Vytautas, who was the ruler of the Lithuanian medieval empire. The trolleybus is painted in light green, which is similar to the color of Lithuanian national teams in sports.
The Belarusian Belkommunmash company-made low floor trolleybus (AKSM-420), marketed under the Vitovt brand, has a modern design. Its capacity is about 100 passengers (29 sitting places). Its best feature is its ability to run short distances without being attached to the electricity lines. According to Striska, this would make it possible to prolong some trolleybus routes in Vilnius.
The Vilniaus Troleibusai now has 320 trolleybuses. Since 1960, Vilnius has been purchasing the Czech-made trolleybus Skoda. Various versions of these trolleybuses dominate Vilnius streets. In 2004-2006, Vilnius purchased via a lease agreement 45 Polish-made modern low-floor Solaris Trolino 15AC trolleybuses. According to Striska, it would be good to renew the trolleybuses of the Vilnius Trolleybus Depot by 50 percent. However, the purchase of only 50 new trolleybuses is planned due to financial reasons. "Now 86 percent of Vilnius trolleybuses are more than 10 years old," Striska said.
Belkommunmash-produced trolleybuses are exported to more than 30 regions of Russia, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, and also to Ukraine, Mongolia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Moldova, and Bulgaria.
One of the advantages of a low-floor Vitovt trolleybus is its price - 600,000 litas (173,772 euros) - while the newest Solaris would cost almost three times more.
"We'll announce the competition, but we would like to check the technical parameters of trolleybuses which will be proposed by various firms," Adomavicius said, adding that he expects proposals from trolleybus-producing companies of the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Italy. The Vitovt will be tested until Aug. 27. Currently Vitovt runs on the route No. 4 in Vilnius. Later it will be exploited on other Vilnius routes. Adomavicius urged future passengers of Vitovt to share their opinion about this trolleybus with the Vilniaus Troleibusai company.