Up until about the early 1960s, George Town, Penang, had electric buses or trams serving many routes in the city. The photo above shows one example, at the junction of Hill Railway Road and Ayer Itam Road. Penang Lang called them “Dian Chia” (kereta eletrik).
The most salient feature of these buses was Silence – very little noise was heard except for the soft purring of the motors when moving off.
Each bus was powered by electricity drawn from a network of overhead cables, via a pair of “trolley” contact arms. These can be clearly seen from the photo.
One big problem was the contact arms often tripped and fell off, especially at junctions. When that happened, the bus conductor had to get down and use a specially made pole to restore the trolley arms back into position.
And the buses could not overtake one another, except at specially constructed “bypass” areas.