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Asian Development Bank

100 Climate Actions from Cities in Asia and the Pacific


Dating back to the 1950s, Dushanbe’s antiquated trolleybus system was not keeping pace with modern life, but a recent refurbishment is breathing life into the system to make e-mobility popular again.

A five-year refurbishment of the electric trolleybuses in Tajikistan’s capital is bringing a Soviet-era transport favourite into the twenty-first century. The spacious buses, connected to overhead electric cables for power, provide a low-carbon and affordable mode of transit through the city.


Trolleybuses had previously been essential for mobility in Dushanbe, providing a fossil-fuel-free transportation option following the Soviet Union collapse and the periodic disruption of oil supplies throughout the 1990s. Trolleybuses hence thrived in the years when gasoline-powered transportation was crippled, and grew to a fleet of 250 units.

As oil supplies stabilised and competing travel modes emerged, the trolleybus system fell out of favor and lacked maintenance, forcing the elimination of poorly-frequented routes and reduction of the fleet to 50 units.

The EU-funded project reconstructed the old infrastructure to improve the quality and reliability of the 7-route transit system. Having facilitated 11 million passenger trips per year when it was dilapidated, city authorities predict the renewed system will boost this number significantly.

Dushanbe is home to over 800,000 people and is the capital city of the mountainous Republic of Tajikistan (photo by ADB).

The Challenge

The outdated nature of Dushanbe’s trolleybus infrastructure has forced residents to rely on more heavily-polluting modes of transport, instead of incentivizing a low-carbon option powered by relatively cheap and abundant hydropower.


Health Trolleybuses are considered one of the safest forms of public transport and the number of traffic accidents in Dushanbe compared with 2017 numbers decreased by almost 60%.

Environment The electric trolleybuses have zero tailpipe emissions, offering a low-pollution transport alternative to private vehicles and contributing to healthier air quality for citizens.

Economic Four modern Belarusian trolleybuses were purchased as part of the project which work with energy savings of up to 45%.