The city of Dallas, Texas, is now the first city in the US to possess a hybrid-electric streetcar that can run without an overhead wire-connection — in this case, the streetcar in question makes use of a new “wireless” battery-powered design.
The move means that Dallas is actually now one of the only cities in the world to make use of such a wireless system — accompanying Guangzhou, China, amongst a few other cities. The system allows the streetcar to run its full route (start to finish) without an overhead connection — allowing the streetcar to comfortably make it across a mile-long bridge included in the route.
The bridge mentioned above is (obvious to those familiar with the city) the Houston Street Viaduct — a “historic” structure that’s been in place for quite some time, and thus not open to careless retrofits.
“That bridge is approximately a mile long,” stated Mark Ball, a DART spokesperson. “And obviously we could not build a streetcar system with overhead wire on a historic structure. So we had to come up with a way to self-propel or push something across that bridge.”
Houston Public Media provides more:
Ball says streetcar builder Brookville of Pennsylvania came up with a hybrid power plan.
At Union Station, as passengers board, the car gets charged. There’s a folding pantograph on top — think the arms of a mechanical praying mantis – and they unfold toward the wires above.
…With the prey of electricity in hand, those mechanical arms send the power down to two batteries beneath the car. After a few minutes charge, off it goes over the bridge – no wires attached.
One of the primary complaints that I’ve heard about streetcars (a strange one to my mind, but common nonetheless) is that the overhead wires are unsightly. The use of systems such as the one in Dallas could perhaps sidestep this issue, leading to wider acceptance of the technology.
Image Credit: Bill Zeeble/KERA News