Saturday, May 7
Those Quiet Electric Trolleybuses
Although this is a small, local matter in a town where I don't live, I'd still like to say the lawsuit in San Francisco over noise from an electric Muni trolleybus seems pointless if not frivolous. For one thing, public transit vehicles are inherently noisy and have been for the century-and-a-half they've run in San Francisco. Is Muni supposed to hush all its vehicles throughout the city? Of course not. What kind of special treatment does this individual expect?
What primarily caught my eye in this story, though, was the question of trolleybus noise. I would consider this a nonissue, because the quietest transit vehicles I have ever heard are Muni's trolleybuses. They hum down the street with the occasional snap/crackle/pop from the electric catenary wires above. They come to a stop with just a little bit of noise; they accelerate with a sound that could hardly be called irritating.
In contrast, what can be irritating is the sound from the bus stop across the street from my house in San Jose. A bus rumbles through the nearby intersection and slows down for the stop, sometimes with its brakes squealing. A recorded voice announces the route number and destination, loudly. When the passengers have boarded, the bus lets out a roar as it accelerates. This occurs a bunch of times per hour, yet I don't complain about it because I've become accustomed to it. It would be different if it were a truck backing up or a noisy group of club kids from South First Street. However, the recurring noises just fade into the background precisely because they are recurring. This also applies to the airliners overhead approaching the San Jose International Airport. My point is that, by comparison, the plaintiff has it good living next to a trolleybus route.