Central Asia’s Only Intercity Trolleybus System: Where Does It Run And How Does It Work?

The only intercity trolleybus route in all of Central Asia, the Urgench – Khiva – Urgench route (about 32km one-way), has been popular with commuters and local residents for 26 years. According to the Uzbek Statistics Agency, demand for the only trolleybus route between the two cities in Khorezm has only increased in recent years.

According to the drivers, tourists are all found the passengers, with an average of two to four on each trip. “Foreign guests like our green trolleybuses very much. They not only photograph [posing with] it in the background, but also film both inside the cabin and video along the way. Sometimes we are asked to pose in front of the camera lenses. We are also pleased that all the passengers are happy,” said Oybek Sobirov, one of the drivers.

The route is also popular with Urgench State University students. They account for a significant share of regular passengers. “The rector of Urgench State University shared with us that the university’s dormitories are not used by students from Khiva, as they travel to study from one city to another by trolleybus. They know that they have regular, safe and fast transportation almost [all the way] to their place of study,” said Ruslan Ruzmetov, head of the Road and River Transport Development Department at the Uzbek Ministry of Transport.

The infrastructure itself was built in 1997 and commissioned in 1998 to coincide with Khiva’s 2,500th anniversary. The total length of the line is almost 36km one-way. The main part of the route is practically in a straight line, and the average trip along it takes 60-70 minutes. At present, the fare is standard for Uzbekistan — 2,000 soums ($0.16) — but traveling on it outside the city is converted into a suburban fare — 4,000 soums ($0.32). On average, 1,700 to 2,000 people travel the route per day, which translates into about 700,000 passengers per year.

On average, eight trolleybuses depart daily, one remains in reserve, and five are currently non-operational. In total, there are 14 trolleybuses on the department’s balance sheet, with the oldest of them more than 25 years old. The line works from early morning until 19:00. Every day, according to the schedule, four trolleybuses depart from the two cities alternately, meaning four vehicles stay overnight in Khiva and Urgench every day.

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Times of Central Asia

Askar Alimzhanov graduated from the journalism department of the Kazakh State University named after S. Kirov, then worked as a correspondent for the daily republican newspaper Leninskaya Smen. He then moved to the United States to be a reporter for the daily newspaper "Cape Cod Times" in Hayanis, Massachusetts, (USA) under the journalist exchange program between the Union of Journalists of the USSR and the New England Society of News Editors. Since then, he has helped build transparency and understanding of Central Asia region in various executive level positions at esteemed media organizations including "Akbar"(Alma-Ata) international center for journalism, the Khabar News agency, the Television and Radio Corporation "Kazakhstan" JSC, and MIR- Kazakhstan.

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