Trolleybuses of Valparaiso
This small trolleybus system is a remarkable survivor, in particular, the buses that are still in service currently. Trolleybuses began in the port city of Valparaiso in 1952 and at the time there was also an existing system in Santiago.
The Valparaiso operation was government owned but, under the Pinochet dictatorship, funding for public transport was heavily reduced (sound familiar?). In 1982, the buses ceased for four months, but local business people purchased the enterprise, and it has remained privately owned since and apparently operates without subsidy.
Regarded by many as part of the character of the city, the trolleybuses were given “Monumento Nacional” status by President Michelle Bachelet in 2003.
There are claims that they are the oldest trolleybuses still in service in the world and operate on just the one remaining route which is about 5km in length. There are about 23 in the fleet including second hand acquisitions. Some of the oldest are from the now closed (in 1978) Santiago network. They have outlived newer vehicles from Europe, some of which proved unsuitable due to current incompatibility.
It is highly amusing to read that when some trolleybuses were purchased from Europe, they could not enter service due to exceeding age limits, despite them being 20 years younger than those running, as the existing fleet was exempt. This was overcome by legislating for the acquired vehicles being granted the same age exemptions. In the past, various liveries were evident. Now, all vehicles are in the same livery by mandate.
How long can the oldies remain running? Who knows. Do them if you get a chance.