Wellington Scoop

Greens plan all-electric buses, and light rail to the airport, by 2027


News from Green Party
The Green Party today announced a plan to work with councils to deliver light rail from the railway station to Wellington airport by 2027 and fast track a fully-electric bus fleet for the city.

The Green Party’s transport plan for Wellington includes commitments to work with councils to:

• Build an electric light rail line, running separate from traffic, from the railway station to Newtown by 2025, and to Kilbirnie and the airport by 2027.

• Fast-track a wholly electric bus fleet for Wellington, including retaining the existing trolley buses and infrastructure, by 2030.

“Light rail will transform Wellington, by making the city quieter and more people-friendly and allowing thousands of people to travel quickly to work, back home again, and beyond,” said Green Party leader James Shaw.

“Light rail will mean around 60 fewer buses on Lambton Quay during peak hour, which means less noise, fewer diesel fumes, and more space for people to walk and cycle.

“While National promises more roads and more traffic, only the Greens are committed to delivering light rail in the next decade and real transport choices for Wellingtonians.

“The cost of light rail has fallen in recent years, so we’re budgeting between $630 – $700 million, depending on the chosen route. We’ll wait for the community and experts to have their say before committing to a particular route, but obviously that will influence cost.

“We’ll also work with councils to fast-track a fully electric bus fleet for the city. The existing trolley bus infrastructure means Wellington is well placed to be the first city in New Zealand with 100 percent electric public transport.

“The Greens will provide a one-off investment of between $30 – $50 million to upgrade underground trolley bus infrastructure, rather than wasting money pulling down the near-new overhead wires and converting trolley buses to diesel-hybrids.

“Our Wellington transport plan also includes a commitment to consistent, ongoing funding for the Capital Connection, and maintenance and double tracking on the Hutt/Wairarapa line.

“Our plan for light rail to the airport in Wellington follows on from a similar announcement we made in Auckland. The Green Party has been the only consistent voice in Parliament pushing for modern public transport solutions for our cities.

“We will bring that record and expertise to the Beehive offices from September,” said Mr Shaw.


June 27:
NZ First also: promises light rail to the airport


  1. Neil Douglas, 24. August 2017, 23:51

    Excellent news from the Greens to retain and invest in the trolley bus system.

    That makes both NZ First and the Greens supportive of Trolleys and LRT and either or both of these parties are likely to be needed as support partners of a Labour or a National Government.

    Hopefully, either or both can make their support conditional on funding and implementation of trolley bus retention/investment and Light Rail.

  2. Kevin Morris, 25. August 2017, 1:59

    All well and good, but Wellington is about to lose its all electric trolleybuses for no good reason, having been promised battery technology that doesn’t exist for high volume public service vehicles. If in doubt over this point ask the Chinese who invested heavily in battery technology only to have to convert the vehicles to trolleybuses. Quite frankly, high volume battery buses still remain against the laws of physics

    SO light rail is coming down in cost is it? Better not tell the citizens of Sheffield and Rotherham here in the UK because their short light rail project is way behind schedule and five times over budget. Edinburgh’s light rail scheme to the airport ended up several hundred millions over budget and several years behind schedule.

    The answer is very clear: retain the trolleybuses! When Wellington announced its plans to abandon its trolleybuses a few years back, it was clear that the politicians hadn’t thought things through.

  3. Ross Clark, 25. August 2017, 3:46

    Still no talk about controlling commuter parking volumes. People will not reduce the use of their cars just because a significantly improved light rail option is provided.

    On a separate note, I suspect that the $700m costing is on the optimistic side. Construction cost blowouts are the bane of this sector, which is why no level of government is really prepared to take that level of risk.

    BTW, how much would the Greens expect the city to contribute?

  4. Ross Clark, 25. August 2017, 23:37

    Kevin – concur (having lived in Edinburgh during the period of the tram’s construction). The final network ended up costing £778m for about eight miles of line (~£100m/mile). It was meant to cost £550m for eleven miles of line (~£50m/mile).

    To note: the numbers for the costs in £/mile work out to about the same in NZD/km, so £100m/mile is about the same as $NZ100m/km.

  5. Mike Mellor, 26. August 2017, 12:46

    It’s important to note that Edinburgh and Rotherham are notable because they are spectacularly bad examples of poor practice, so much so that they have both been subject to government enquiries. They are not examples of typical construction costs, rather extreme outliers.

    And even that bad experience has not put Edinburgh off looking seriously at extending their line. Clearly they see the real, substantial benefits, just as we surely will.

  6. Ross Clark, 28. August 2017, 20:54

    And even that bad experience has not put Edinburgh off looking seriously at extending their line. Clearly they see the real, substantial benefits, just as we surely will.

    Mike, to clarify, the proposal to extend the current line by three miles – to complete it to the original project scope – is bogged down in arguments as to who will pay the £160m bill. Especially as there is a real fear that the bill would blow out.