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The National Academies

TCRP D-04 [Completed]

Visual Impact of Overhead Contact Systems for Electric Transit Vehicles

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Research Agency: Urbitran Associates, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Arthur Schwartz
Effective Date: 12/15/1993
Completion Date: 5/31/1995

This study identified ways to reduce the visual impact of overhead contact systems (OCS). Improvements studied included improved design techniques that, when coupled with streetscape treatments, would make the OCS less visible and more acceptable. Guidelines were developed that ensure that the operational needs of the system are taken into account. The end product is a report that provides planners, designers, engineers, transit professionals, and hardware suppliers the basic tools to minimize or mitigate the visual impact of the OCS in a cost-effective manner.

Electric transit vehicle applications may make positive contributions in reducing the mobile source air-quality problems faced in most of the urban areas in this country. Additionally, the noise level associated with electric vehicles is significantly lower than diesel buses. However, a major area of vulnerability for electric transit vehicle applications is the need for an overhead contact wire system. The concept of OCS is unfamiliar to much of the U.S. population and is perceived as visually intrusive. As plans have emerged to upgrade existing systems, reinstall older systems, and prepare for new systems, this vulnerability becomes more important.

The response to this problem often includes actions to simply reduce the amount of OCS required. Although this course of action will minimize the visual problem, it is often done at the expense of operating flexibility and system performance. Clearly, solutions that minimize the visual impact of electric vehicle applications must strike a balance with operating considerations. To minimize and mitigate visual impact, all aspects of OCS installation must be examined including hardware systems, support systems, construction techniques, streetscape treatments, alternative power units, and transit operating requirements.

The final report was published as TCRP Report No. 7. TCRP Report 7 is also available in portable document format (PDF). Double-click on the files below to access the report. (A free copy of Adobe Acrobat reader is available at http://www.adobe.com.)

Front Matter; Chapter 1: Introduction; Chapter 2: Nonintrusive and Intrusive Design Examples; Chapter 3: System Design Considerations; Chapter 4: OCS Design; Chapter 5: Curve Design; and Chapter 6: Intersection Design (6,565 Kb)

Chapter 7: OCS Elements; Chapter 8: Streetscape Improvements; Chapter 9: Presentation Techniques; Chapter 10: Regulatory Environment; Chapter 11: Conclusions; Appendixes A and B

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