Riga vice-mayor: every day the hope of seeing hydrogen trolleybuses as viable transports is lost

The hydrogen-powered trolleybuses procured by Riga municipality’s public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme have not lived up to their expectations, and every day the hope of seeing them as a quality public transport option is lost, said Riga’s vice-mayor Vilnis Ķirsis in an interview to Latvijas Avīze.
«As part of the experimental project Rīgas satiksme bought ten hydrogen trolleybuses and even build a recharging station. Unfortunately, four of those trolleybuses are regularly undergoing repairs, and every day we lose hope of seeing this form of transport develop,» says Ķirsis.
He adds in the foreseeable future there will be new passenger train offers to be integrated into Rīgas satiksme plan. «We need to organize the network of routes, because some passengers choose to travel by railway. This reduces the flow of passengers in other public transport types. It is possible we may need to optimize the network, because we will not need as many buses, trolleybuses and other forms of public transport,» says Ķirsis.
However, he doesn’t deny that it is necessary to develop the city’s public transport network. This year there was a survey carried out among residents: 60% of Riga’s residents said the cover most of the distance in their every day lives using public transports, 43% prefer walking, and 53% have their own car, 16% drive bicycles, 14% use taxi services, 4% use electric scooters and other micro-mobility options, and 2% use shared cars.
The number of people who own a car increases in Riga. The same can be said for Ogre, Tukums and Aizkraukle.
«But the American philosophy of getting everywhere by car doesn’t work here. If there are too many cars, they get in traffic jams. The other issue is that the people who moved out of the city want to live in peace and quiet. They also actively promote the idea of ending traffic congestion, and motor running in Riga! We live peacefully in Pieriga. In the city centre, however, we have to deal with noise, dust and exhaust gases. This is a path towards the death of the city. There are urban environments around the world, and when the centre empties, its surrounding rings become larger until they reach a size that forces residents to spend hours in the car when travelling to and from work. This is not a direction to work towards. Riga’s centre should be populated, not empty,» says the politician.
In December 2020 Rīgas satiksme commissioned a hydrogen production, refilling and storage station in Riga, Vienības gatve 6, next to the 2nd Trolleybus Park. This station commenced operations in 2020 and was available for public use.
Additionally Rīgas satiksme received ten hydrogen-powered trolleybuses that were certified and had passed the inspection tests.
After recharging, electric vehicles can cover a distance of 300-400 km. Trolleybuses can cover up to 200 km, whereas light-weight electric vehicles can cover up to 600 km.
The total costs of this project were EUR 16.1 million. 50% of this amount was provided by the European Union.