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  1. Ian Shearer, 13. October 2017, 13:22

    Well said Mike. So how do we stop this vandalism from destroying the remainder of our all electric public transport assets?

    Clearly this is one case where a new Government could call for an immediate halt to the removal of the overhead lines and for a rapid engineering review of the evidence. The Greens and NZ First policies seem strongly supportive of electric public transport. Will Labour have the guts to call a halt now?

  2. Marion Leader, 13. October 2017, 13:47

    If the Greens were serious about the environment and not so obsessed with social issues they would already have become part of a government which would be influencing the retention of the trolley buses.
    Labour can safely take care of the social issues.

  3. Stop Trexit, 13. October 2017, 14:14

    Logic has never had anything to do with the trolley bus decision. It’s a simple power grab by the ever expanding GWRC bureaucracy. By axing the trolleys, the route monopolies of NZBus were ended.

    GWRC is also reducing WCC’s ‘power’ in public transport by getting rid of the overhead wiring. GWRC decided to do this knowing that Mayor Celia Wade Brown followed by Justin Lester would do absolutely positively nothing.

  4. Adam, 13. October 2017, 14:32

    “Battery Electric buses are still mainly in use in small numbers, many as prototypes or development vehicles, often on carefully chosen routes and in most cases the purchase cost is supported by government grants.”

    Yes, but the above is a subjective statement. Please quantify ‘small’. In fact, one could argue quite the opposite (using figures to back up the argument)

    Full report, actual numbers http://zeeus.eu/uploads/publications/documents/zeeus-ebus-report-internet.pdf

    Let us move on and look into the future. These dinosaurs need to go.

  5. Pat, 13. October 2017, 14:38

    “Say one thing do the opposite” that is politics today and it’s neither acceptable nor believable. The faux Greens just use the environment and a few trending social issues as a political platform for votes. They are as about as green as the diesel exhaust fumes in the WCC fireworks pollution long term plan .

  6. Peter Rendall, 13. October 2017, 16:38

    Chairman Laidlaw and his staff refer to trolleys as obsolete technology, it would be better to refer to it a proven technology. Battery buses and fuel cell buses are unproven technology. China has had the largest takeup of battery buses due largely to massive government subsidies to try to improve air quality. However in a number of cities trolley buses are being reinstated due to problems with the battery buses. Many new Chinese trolleys have battery packs that allow them to travel reasonable distances off wire… eg across parts of Beijing. If Greater Wgtn was serious about having environmentally effective transport, it could have purchased the trolleybus fleet from NZ Bus and tendered their operation in the same way it purchased the electric trains and employs a contractor to run them.

  7. Neil Douglas, 13. October 2017, 16:51

    Hey Pat, Sue Kedgley and Paul Bruce were Green GWRC councillors and they were two of only three GWRC councillors to vote to keep our trolleys. Those who effectively voted to axe the trolleys were independents or non Green party members so it’s these people you should be critical of.

    One issue is letting Kapiti, Porirua, Hutt and Wairarapa councillors decide the future of a Wellington City asset. Why should they care about the health of Wellington city residents? City assets should be the responsibility of Wellington City Council.

    It’s probably too late to save the trolleys, but this poor decision is emblematic of why a Transport Board should be recreated to replace the GWRC (as it was before 1990). We could then have people like Mike Flinn in charge of Wellington city buses with decisions on bus fleet, bus stops, frequencies, fares made by locals for locals.

  8. Conn G, 13. October 2017, 19:59

    I agree with the comments and Mike Flinn’s appreciated detailed report and analysis regarding the Wellington trolleybuses. This decision before 2014 was to simplify the tendering process without trolleybuses. How can a cheap diesel bus provider give Wellington the necessary 21st Century public transport service it requires?

  9. Glen Smith, 14. October 2017, 10:12

    Adam. Have you actually objectively examined the reports that you claim show trolleys are ‘dinosaurs’? These reports cover all electric bus systems including new and expanding trolley and hybrid trolley systems. Most overseas cities of course don’t have existing trolley networks which makes the barrier for trolleys a lot higher than here in Wellington.
    One city that does is Lublin (pages 53-54 in the second report you cite) which provides insight into which electric system would best suit Wellington. The main operator runs 226 buses and 110 trolleys of which 50 are battery hybrids. They have one battery electric bus. The battery electric bus has a huge 120kWh battery (presumably weighing a few tons) and can only operate for 7 hours travelling 110km before it has to be recharged overnight at the depot. The hybrids have 13.6 and 38 kWh batteries, can work continuously for 18 hrs/ day travelling bewteen 215 and 280 km with between 15 and 50 km on battery. The hybrid system is clearly superior. I can’t see costings for these buses. Lublin is planning to buy 40 new hybrid buses and 70 new electric (presumably to replace diesels on routes without trolley wires).
    Another feature of this report is that, as Mike Flinn says, almost all the examples of full electric buses are only a few (up to around 4) buses that are called such things as ‘test’, ‘demonstration’, ‘pilot’ and ‘research,’ reinforcing his warning that this technology is unproven.
    Given this information, one would assume the GWRC would have examined the option of a full hybrid trolley/ battery system for the whole of Wellington (not Hutt or Porirua). WRONG.
    In response to my official information request, the GWRC cites their report ‘Evaluating the impact of different bus fleet configurations’ from 2014. However this report only evaluates replacing the existing trolleys (not diesels) with trolley diesel hydrids (which of course require 2 motors). No evaluation of any kind is done on replacing either just the trolleys or all buses in the Wellington area (including diesels) with hybrid battery/trolleys, despite the clear superiority of this system. They can’t claim they were unaware of this option since the Greens have been advocating it for years and the Jacobs report clearly states this is an option.
    It is not too late to do this properly. The wires are still intact and most contracts have ‘escape’ clauses. Similarly the contract with Tranzit could be renegotiated to specify hybrids and they could in turn change the order with their suppliers – I am sure Tranzit would rather have several hundred new electric buses rather than the soon-to-be-obsolete true diesel dinosaurs that the GWRC is making us pay for.

  10. Kerry, 14. October 2017, 12:04

    Wellington’s ‘outdated’ trolleybuses use less than half the carbon emissions of the the latest diesels.

    They were well-built and don’t have diesel engines shaking them to pieces, so they should have no trouble lasting ten years if the new technology takes longer than expected.

  11. Robert, 14. October 2017, 14:43

    The trolley buses are an icon and a useful tourist marketing tool, if the powers that be in Wellington still cared about such things. They appear to think electrical transport systems are too sophisticated for the low grade people they prefer to prioritise. I am sure people around the world would have been fascinated by many of Wellington’s hilly curvy trolley routes which seem to me to be very unusual. Of course in deference to the supposedly enlightened world leading leftism and champions for social justice, the world’s fashionable media no longer deride NZ’s local and national government as fairly hopeless and the average New Zealander as being a rural prejudiced bigot from the stone age, which was the general line of the Guardian and Independent on Clark’s Aotearoa until a decade ago. Proritising those awful council high rises as being in the supposedly grand East German and Cuban style of community housing now seems to win dividends in CNN / BBC support worldwide so we won’t see any international investigation of the scandalous phaseout of a trolley system that most British municipalities would do anything for .

  12. Mike Flinn, 14. October 2017, 20:58

    In response to Adam: it was not possible to include details on all the points in the article.
    Briefly here is the requested detail of battery electric buses in the UK in mid 2017 as an example.
    Scotland 9 ( 4 operators), Harrogate 1, York 13, Manchester 53 (3 models) Coventry 3, Milton Keynes 8, London 51 BYD single deck (largest batch) 13 other single deck, 5 BYD double deck, Brighton 2 and Dorchester 2.
    There are 18 operators, only 5 of the buses are double deck.
    All are plug rechargeable except 8 buses in Milton Keynes which are floor plate conductively charged.
    Volvo has 3 pantograph charged buses on trial in Gothenberg, Sweden and others are on trial elsewhere.

  13. Keith Flinders, 15. October 2017, 19:09

    Another important consideration is the passenger capacity of the battery buses Mike outlines in his reply to Adam. Most are well short of the capacity of a three axle trolley bus which can take up to 70 passengers, both seated and standing.

    On Friday last around 14:15 I was unable to board a No. 3 trolley to Karori as it was almost full when it reached Pastoral House, meaning few of the many waiting passengers could be accommodated. The next bus was also unable to take all those waiting. For every two trolley buses, three battery buses of the capacity generally being employed now, will be required for the obviously very popular Karori route.

  14. greenwelly, 17. October 2017, 16:50

    At 2pm, Wellington Mayor Justin Lester went through Bowen House at Parliament, and headed up in the lifts with Green Party chief of staff Tory Whanau and leader James Shaw’s executive assistant David Butler-Peck.


  15. Nick Stoneman, 19. October 2017, 0:27

    the whole tendering process that GWRC has used is totally flawed and their endless claims that the Trolleybuses are old and out dated just doesn’t stack up. The present system works well and if Sir Brian Souter was still in charge he would have had GWRC in court for even considering conducting a tender round.. The Trolleybuses are a Wellington icon. I always look out of the window of my plane as I’m coming into land to see if there is a Trolleybus sitting at Lyall Bay, or if coming from the north travelling down Calabar Road. Now after 31st October I won’t bother looking out the window to see a smelly dirty ex Auckland diesel..

  16. Glen Smith, 19. October 2017, 6:43

    Kerry. I didn’t mean to imply that trolley/battery hybrids should replace our current sturdy trolleys which, as Mike says, should see out their considerable remaining lifespan servicing fully wired routes. The question is what to do on partially or non wired routes whch are currently serviced by diesel dinosaurs. The aim should be to progressively replace these diesels by electric technology.
    For substantially wired routes (up to 5 km or so ‘off wire’ allowing small batteries and substantial time ‘on wire’ for charging) the superior technology is clearly trolley/ battery hybrids, as outlined above, which the GWRC havent even considered. The GWRC and both you and Mike seem confident these will be surpassed by battery technology in the not too distant future. The more reading I do on battery technology the more sceptical I am of this. Manufacturers are experimenting with different lithium ions and anode/ cathodes which improves charging times and gives small gains in storage, albeit at the cost of safety (look at the Samsung batteries) and battery longevity, but no quantum change looks likely that will overcome the basic problem of stored energy density which means electric buses spend a lot of their time and effort transporting their own battery rather than passengers. A comment from someone who has expertise in this area would be welcomed.
    The logical plan (in my view) is to retain trolleys and first progressively replace diesels on substantially wired routes ( up to around 5km ‘off wire’- which is essentially all of Wellington) by trolley/ battery hybrids. Then finally replace diesels on minimally or non wired routes with electric buses (by then the technology should at least have stabilised/ standardised.)
    Instead we are dumping the superior and proven trolleys, paying large sums to kill the golden goose (our wired network that enables the superior and proven trolley and trolley/ battery technology) and paying large sums to buy several hundred more diesel dinosaurs (which we already have a surplus of and which we should be trying to get rid of).
    How did we end up with such a demonstrably illogical and frankly stupid plan?
    As Mike and other commentators say it looks like this is all in the pursuit of mindless right wing ‘market’ ideology rather than having a single publically owned and operated transport organisation which could undertake logical transport planning. This is yet another example of how pursuit of this ideology results in inferior and illogical outcomes. When will we learn.

  17. IanS, 19. October 2017, 6:48

    Interesting that other cities of the world continue to trial new trolley buses.


    “The reason that electric trolley buses are being tested is that hilly terrain uses up a lot of battery power, and limits the usefulness of electric buses.” They could be describing some city like ours.

  18. greenwelly, 19. October 2017, 19:19

    Both NZ First and the Greens campaigned to keep the Trolleys. So let’s see what they are prepared to do about this now……

  19. Jeff Wien, 23. October 2017, 19:49

    One would hope that the new Government including NZ First and the Greens will take immediate action within the next week to halt the abandonment of the zero-emission trolley buses on 31 October. An injunction should be issued to prevent the GWRC from carrying out its ill-conceived plans to dieselise the Wellington bus fleet.

  20. John B, 23. October 2017, 20:57

    Last week, Dayton USA decided to renew and extend their trolley bus operation. One of the reasons for this is because of the great advances in trolley technologies which now have the possibility of extended off-wire coverage using high capacity batteries.

    GWRC have claimed that trolleys are inflexible, but this is no longer the case. Dayton have proved this over a 3 year trial, stating that we could run the buses where ever we wished.

    Other cities are also testing and using high capacity batteries for everyday trolley use. These batteries differ from the ones within the current Wellington fleet, which are not suitable for every day usage.