Wellington Scoop

The timetable for pulling down Wellington’s 82km of trolley bus wires

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
The first step in dismantling Wellington’s trolley bus wires began on 10 October when work started on a disused section in the city centre as part of a 12-month contract to remove 82 kilometres of overhead wires.

Work on dismantling the rest of the network will begin on 1 November after power to the trolleys is switched off on 31 October.

Regional Council Chief Executive Greg Campbell says the trolleys have served the city well over the decades, but it’s time to look to new environmentally-friendly technology that can be used throughout the entire city and region.

“Next year, the region will get a new fleet of low-emission diesels, as well as 10 electric double-deckers – and in the next few years we’ll add another 22 electric double-deckers.

“Over time, more and more electric buses will come into service until we eventually achieve our goal of being the first region in the country to have an all-electric fleet.”

Wellington Cable Car Ltd awarded the wire removal contract in May to specialist firm Broadspectrum on behalf of Greater Wellington. Wellington City Council owns Wellington Cable Car Ltd.

Greater Wellington and the NZ Transport Agency will share the cost of removal work.

Wellington Cable Car Chief Executive Officer Simon Fleisher says the week-long first stage will enable Broadspectrum to fine-tune its equipment, processes and safety procedures before the work begins in earnest.

The disused emergency section runs along Featherston Street, Hunter Street, Victoria Street, Jervois Quay, Wakefield Street, lower Taranaki Street and Whitmore Street.

“Residents along trolley routes should expect some limited machinery noise, but only for one night because Broadspectrum crews anticipate removing about 200 metres of line each evening.

“Residents may also be asked to temporarily park their cars elsewhere so crews can get access to overhead wires and poles. Broadspectrum will do letter drops so there will be plenty of warning, and Broadspectrum will also have information online and through its contact centre.

Crews will concentrate on central city areas in January and February before moving outwards to suburban terminals.

He says the overhead network should still be regarded as “live” after 31 October, because other factors could result in the wires being electrically dangerous.

“All safe distances and overhead restraint requirements should be retained until the network is fully removed.”

The overhead network needs to be removed sooner rather than later because it needs regular maintenance, can be a hazard to overheight vehicles, and can complicate other construction and maintenance work in the city centre.

Extra buses will cover for the trolleys until the region’s new fleet starts service next July.

Mr Campbell says the new fleet will result in an immediate drop in harmful emission levels – 38 per cent in Wellington and 86 per cent in the Hutt Valley, where older buses operate.

“Most of the region’s new fleet will meet the Euro VI standard – the most stringent in the world – and this will give us one of the cleanest fleets in the world.”

He says bus services will continue as usual along routes once serviced by the trolleys.

[First published on October 3.]

Read also
Sad about the trolley buses?


  1. Stop Trexit, 3. October 2017, 16:52

    Clearly George Orwell has a job in ‘Communications’ at the GWRC. Removing the 100% electric trolley buses and replacing them with diesels will improve emissions from Wellington’s bus fleet?

  2. Michael, 3. October 2017, 21:07

    If the “new” diesel buses are anything like the noisy and smelly old-looking silver and purple buses that have appeared in the city lately, then we are in for a shock. Nothing like looking like a third world city!

  3. Troy H, 4. October 2017, 7:49

    To the Councillors who tell us how this is “disappointing”: until they pull down the lines, it’s not too late.

  4. Stephanie Rodgers, 4. October 2017, 14:38

    Reminder that trolleys were a key factor in Wgtn bus drivers being able to stay union & retain good pay & conditions. [via twitter]

  5. Stop Trexit, 4. October 2017, 16:40

    But Tranzit will own the overhead charging stations for double deckers at Island Bay so they will have their very own monopoly. And they don’t employ union labour so it will be a monopoly for the bus owners. Yes indeed, enjoy the weird and not so wonderful world of Wellington.

  6. Mark Shanks, 5. October 2017, 9:28

    This is so dumb! Are there any public protests planned?

  7. Ian, 5. October 2017, 22:52

    I will certainly be protesting during the next local government elections, to get rid of the councillors who supported this disaster.

    To stop removal of the first section of overhead wires – would need people power around the contractor vehicles or overhead wire supports!

  8. Mark, 6. October 2017, 0:19

    Once they’re done removing the wires, can they please continue their sterling “clean-up” efforts and remove the anti-democratic clueless gits in the regional and city councils who no longer want to work for the public benefit? These glory hounds just make me want to puke … …or maybe that’s the diesel fumes catching in my throat.

  9. MetLink, 11. October 2017, 10:59

    It’s business as usual for 🚎 trolley bus routes as we start decommissioning. Current bus timetables are unaffected: http://bit.ly/ByeByeTrolleys

  10. Troy H, 11. October 2017, 14:16

    Abso-fricken-lutely Mark!
    They never listen and they don’t represent the public.

  11. Stop Trexit, 11. October 2017, 14:32

    The regional councillors who have not supported the trolleys represent the Hutt, Kapiti and Porirua where trolley buses never go. Why should they care?

    So it’s the pusillanimous Wellington city councillors who have done nothing about keeping a city asset who need the boot come election time especially those on the board of Wellington Cable Car.

  12. John, 29. October 2017, 19:40

    The best way forward with the trolleys would be to retrofit them as a trolley / battery combo. Replace the existing batteries with high capacity batteries as used in battery buses and charge them while in motion. Overhead required is then only 10 – 50% of the existing amount so removes negatives associated with the existing system such as inflexiblity.

    Prague’s experience after 140,000km testing battery buses is “hilly terrain uses up a lot of battery power, and limits the usefulness of electric buses” …so they installed a trolley / battery combo system. https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B770vcn5f5AdSzBvRTFlWWlyLVU

  13. greenwelly, 30. October 2017, 12:28

    I have a feeling the battery DDers will struggle day in day out on the Ngauranga Gorge with a full load and a howling northerly… I might be wrong, but let’s see….

  14. Mike Mellor, 30. October 2017, 12:55

    Mark Shanks: there’ll be a public wake on Willis St outside Unity Books from 6pm tomorrow (Tuesday). Also tomorrow is a meeting of the GWRC Sustainable Transport Committee – 1.30pm Level 2 east meeting room, Westpac Stadium, . It’s open to the public, and according to the Dominion Post Cr Sue Kedgley will be “leading a late charge to save the trolleys”.

    Since decommissioning of the trolleybuses is on the meeting’s agenda (page 15), anyone can speak to the meeting for three minutes – see http://www.gw.govt.nz/assets/Public-Participation-Brochure.pdf. It would be good to see people there, and even better if they spoke.

  15. Alan Smith, 30. October 2017, 14:46

    The trolleybus overhead has to be removed quickly because it “can be a hazard to overheight vehicles and can complicate other construction and maintenance work in the city centre” – the words in the Regional Council’s press release linked to GWRC’s Campbell and WCCL’s Fleischer but not recorded as a direct quote from either. The reality is clearer than this PR spin – most of the span wires and other bits of overhead infrastructure are staying after the actual trolleybus running wires are removed, based on the evidence in Ballance St and Featherston St – so they will continue to be a hazard to over-height vehicles and other construction work. If GWRC can’t get even that inconvenient truth right, why should we trust their “hope” that next year 100% battery buses will appear in Wellington? Why not retain some at least of the trolleybus routes until a direct transition can be made? NZTA (the NZ Trucking Agency) set the PTOM policy which has directly led to this schemozzle, and GWRC has meekly gone along with it, no questions answered. WCC, who own the trolleybus overhead, have also been conspicuously quiet about this change. Come on guys, how about some plain-speaking common sense and truth?

  16. Generation Zero, 1. November 2017, 14:57

    #Wellington could have a zero-emissions bus fleet in a matter of years if we keep the trolley overhead wires. Regional Council: don’t take a backwards leap! [via twitter]