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City-News Archive

Kutaisi [GE] - Two Trolleybus routes survived

J. Lehmann - 09.03.09

Kutaisi - Georgia

Kutaisi, Georgia's second largest city and the capital of the western region of Imereti is situated 221 kilometres to the west of Tbilisi. The population of this dreary looking town is 185,965 according to the 2002 census and it's only redeeming feature would appear to be the large number of historic monasteries, cathedrals and churches.

Here too the Trolleybus operations were curtailed during the period of the Russian invasion and occupation. The Trolleybus system was first opened in September 1949 and was continually extended until 1983 when it had 10 routes on an 88 kilometre system. In all 66 Trolleybuses were in service. By the year 2001 after the stabilising effect of the communist regime had been removed only 4 routes remained. Routes 2, 6, 7 and 8 survived until 14.01.2007 when the system was completely closed down. Despite this during April 2007 Ex Athens trolleybuses from Tiflis arrived and it was intended to reopen the system. It was not, however, until the end of the year 2007 that Trolleybuses started running again on route 7. In January visitors observed three Trolleybuses, numbers 369, 373 and 024, in service whilst a fourth Trolleybus of the ZIU 683 type was parked as a reserve vehicle.

Now route 6 has also been reopened . Both routes are two kilometres in length and are not physically connected to one another. Their Termini are both situated at points on the original route 8, which ten years ago was served by 12 Trolleybuses and a high frequency. Route 8 has, itself, yet to be reopened.

Public transport is served by the infamous Marschrutkas or minibuses and even diesel buses are few and far between. There is no local operator who coordinates and runs public transport as is the case in many towns in Georgia and it will no doubt be many years before this country returns from the dark ages into the present day. The Trolleybus operation is extremely sporadic and would appear to run only when the drivers feel like it and when there is some sort of demand. There does not seem to be a timetable for these two routes.

Our photo shows Trolleybus type ZIU9 number 369 in service on route 7 on 18.08.2008. This is one of the ex Athens, ex Tiflis vehicles and, as such, one of the latest additions to the fleet!
Photo: Tymofii Bespiatov

Translation and additional text: Bankes