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A fully electric network – delayed for 25 years by removal of wires

by Glen Smith
The evidence is that the current destruction of our historic trolley wire network will delay the introduction of a fully electric bus system by at least a quarter of a century (I invite members of the Regional Council to logically refute that assertion).

A fully electric trolley/battery hybrid network could have been achieved by the early 2020s.

Instead, by forcing Transit to purchase 228 diesel dinosaurs with a life expectancy of up to 25 years rather than modern trolley/battery hybrids, the new target of a fully electric bus system by 2050 now looks optimistic.

If the decision had followed a thorough assessment and competent examination of options it might be excusable.

However no examination or costing of a trolley/battery hybrid system was undertaken, the option of a joint electric supply for trolley and across-town rail was never explored, and even the basic level of competence of a business case for trolleys and an independent audit of costings for electrical supply upgrades was not achieved.

And though diesel fumes are carcinogenic – over 1000 New Zealanders die yearly from man made pollution and diesel buses are being banned from cities overseas – no proper assessment of health impacts and costs has been undertaken.

These failures should have led to intervention. But the reality is that the Regional Council is accountable to nobody, no matter how incompetently they behave. Wellington City Councillors, who represent the public that will be most affected, just pathetically ring their hands despite owning the wire network. Central politicians put out politically correct sound bites about climate change and democracy but at the end of the day are disinterested despite the people of Wellington repeatedly indicating they want a fully electric bus network.

RIP trolleys. RIP thoroughness. RIP democracy. RIP objectivity. RIP accountability. And RIP any semblance of Regional Council professionalism.

Glen Smith is a Wellington GP whose medical background gives him an interest in the health effects of climate change and pollution.

32 comments:

  1. Conn G, 28. December 2017, 17:46

    I wonder whether this alarming and clear medical viewpoint will make a difference to the arrogance and shortsightedness of the relevant councillors and their decisions over scrapping the Wellington trolleybuses.

     
  2. Cr Daran Ponter, 29. December 2017, 11:10

    Hi Glen. The removal of the trolley bus wires, which I and two other regional councillors opposed, is definitely a setback, but I am not sure that I could say that it had set us back 25 years.

    You will understand that much of the decision-making on transport choices, whether we agree of disagree, is made on the basis of cost.

    Wellington Electricity had the Regional Council over a barrel on the trolley busses. They said – if you want to continue their operation then you have to pay to upgrade the substations supplying power to the trolley bus wires. They said that safety and surety of supply were the big drivers for the upgrade. The decision on the extent and cost of upgrades was not one which the Regional Council would have had much say in. Wellington Electricity would have determined the extent of the upgrade and the consequent price that they then would have passed on to the GWRC and NZTA (A footnote: this situation has its origins in the decision of the Wellington City Council to sell its interest in Wellington Electricity in the mid 1990s – see article by my fellow councillor Sue Kedgley). So despite independent reports that suggested a lower cost for upgrading the substations, those assessments never came into play with the GWRC, because the substations are owned by Wellington Electricity and they would have ultimately determined the standard of upgrade.

    Of course the lines themselves are owned by the Wellington City Council through its 100% subsidiary Cable Car Company Limited. At no stage has the GWRC forced the removal of the overhead wires – they could have stayed in place as far as the GWRC was concerned. But GWRC did make a financial contribution to the removal of the overhead wires, which I for one would have been quite happy to direct into other initiatives – such as the purchase of more 100% electric battery busses.

    A fully electric trolley/battery hybrid network was never going to be achieved by the early 2020s even if the trolley buses had been retained. I doubt that any city of comparable size in the world will achieve this, in this timeframe.

    Transit were not forced to purchase 228 diesel busses – this is what they tendered to provide. The bus tenders were weighted in favour of low emission busses, including hybrids and no emission buses (though not trolleys, as the decision had already been made to terminate them). But none of the successful tenderers tendered with hybrids or 100% electric busses, presumably because of the cost of purchase (despite that fact that these vehicles do not currently attract Road User Charges). While this is disappointing it nevertheless reflects the fact that buses are expensive, and electric and hybrid busses even more expensive. GWRC has nevertheless entered a separate agreement to secure an initial fleet of 32 double decker electric buses.

    The contract for the new bus routes is for nine years (starting mid 2018). These contracts can be extended a further three years (so possible twelve years in total). In that time Transit will introduce 32 double decker electric buses running seven days a week (compared to weekday only trolley operation). In addition, Go Wellington may still introduce hybrid buses of their own (though I am not holding my breath). Bus patronage is expected to increase – as it does GWRC will work with operators to introduce more 100% electric buses.

    It is likely that had the trolley bus network been retained, with an upgrade of the substations, that no further funds would have been available for any other electric/hybrid technology, other than what operators introduced of their own volition. The reason for this is that funding for public transport is not an issue for the GWRC alone – it also involves NZTA (25% of funding).

    I understand your frustration when you say that the Regional Council is responsible to no one – but I do not agree with you. The Regional Council’s decisions were announced well prior to the last local government election – and trolley buses were a key issue during the 2016 election. Wellingtonians elected a majority of councillors who were opposed to the removal of the trolley buses (three out of five). But three out of five is only three out of thirteen when translated to the whole Council.

    I have had to resign myself to the fact that the trolley bus decision is irreversible. While I understand that the decision and the consequences will continue to be cause for angst for many years to come, my focus is on how we get better support for active modes and low emission public transport across the region, including light rail.

     
  3. KB, 29. December 2017, 15:09

    Shenzhen, China, a city of 12 million people, has just finished updating its 14,000 bus fleet to fully electric battery operated vehicles. Why would it take Wellington 25 years to do the same? The technology is ready, this isn’t rocket science.

     
  4. Glen Smith, 29. December 2017, 21:31

    Daran . Thank you for your reply. I recognize that you were one of the councillors who opposed the destruction of our trolley network. A couple of points.
    You say it wouldn’t be possible to achieve a full trolley/ hybrid network by the early 2020s. Given that the GWRC undertook no assessment of this solution (despite being advised by Jacobs that it was an option) what evidence do you use to justify this statement? We had a functional extensive trolley network which, by my calculations, would allow the immediate implementation of a full trolley/ battery network had the existing trolleys been retained and the 228 new buses purchased as modern trolley/battery hybrids. These would only have required small battery capacity to reduce cost with the option of adding capacity as battery technology improved (probably only 10km off wire capacity would have been adequate given the extensive nature of our trolley network. This would depend on the charging ability while ‘on wire’ and the acceptable safety margin). Could you outline the justification of your assessment that a trolley/ battery hybrid would take many years to establish.

    You say that Transit weren’t forced to purchase diesels, but this would appear to be a misleading statement. Running trolley/ hybrids requires a functional trolley network and Transit were never offered this as an option. Their only options were full electric (where the technology is unproven in a Wellington setting) or diesel. In short GWRC’s decision to destroy our trolley network forced Transit to buy diesels rather than the more logical trolley/battery hybrids.

    Your statement that Wellington Electricity had the GWRC ‘over a barrel’ also appears misleading. The option was to go to another supplier. The Trolley Projects Mode Efficiency Analysis (previously referenced) showed that even if trolley infrastructure has to be built from scratch – including wires and electrical supply – the long term costs for trolleys are lower than diesel if buses are more frequent than every 5 minutes (compare this to the buses every 30 seconds along the Golden Mile) and more frequent than every 10 minutes with existing infrastructure (This is on average and depends on individual circumstances). Could you advise which bits of this analysis you think are inaccurate? Had the GWRC done a basic standard business case you would likely have come to the same conclusion but this appears to have been too much for your organisation to undertake.

    You say that it won’t be 25 years before a fully electric system is achieved. By this I assume you have a timeline for introduction of electric buses and the replacement of the brand new diesels. Can you outline this in detail? The future looks clear to me. The diesels will be with us for the 9 years of the current contract. Then the contract will either be directly rolled over or further tendering will be undertaken. Transit will have 228 diesels which by then will be state-of-the-ark and essentially worthless. They will be able to undercut any other tender which would require other tenderers to invest in new vehicles. The GWRC (if it still exists) will no doubt take the same approach of the nastiest option and, ignoring climate change and health costs, decide to continue with diesels on the basis of ‘cost’. This will continue until the diesels see out their useful lives (up to 25 years). Could you advise why you don’t believe this scenario will come to fruition.

    You say that the most important thing now is to look forward at options for active and low emissions transport modes and I agree. However just as the GWRC failed to undertake their job in an objective manner, by ignoring the option of a trolley/ battery hybrid network, so the evidence is that the LGWM team (who appear to have ignored the option of rail along the Quays, failed to examine options for removal of the transfer penalty at the station, and ignored options for a dedicated PT corridor to the east including a dual road/rail tunnel) will also fail to undertake their duties competently and will just try to impose their step wise, scenario A to D, road dominated, predetermined agenda. As I have said previously, the outcome is likely to be another long fight and many more years delay. Planners are the ones who must take responsibility for this by failing to listen to the people of Wellington and repeatedly presenting the same road dominated plan, presumably on the assumption we will finally give up and accept it. That won’t happen.

     
  5. Conn G, 29. December 2017, 21:43

    How can a city put in place or keep any infrastructure regarding public transport when it comes down to only money and a tender being several years long?

     
  6. Cr Daran Ponter, 30. December 2017, 11:24

    KB – Nobody denies that battery bus technology is here now, and continues to improve. The issue is essentially cost – the same reason that the New Zealand 100% electric car fleet remains small, though growing.

    Some countries provide additional incentives for electric buses, as we do in New Zealand. But even then, the cost is prohibitive and additional funds have to be found – from ratepayers, taxpayers and fare-paying commuters.

     
  7. Daran Ponter, 30. December 2017, 12:03

    Hi Glen. With respect to hybrids and fully electric battery buses I can say, unfortunately and with some confidence, that the earliest we could ever expect a fully 100% electric or hybrid bus fleet across the region is 2027-2030. Why? Because contracts have now been signed with bus companies who in turn have placed their orders for new buses – diesel Euro VI busses + 100% electric double-deckers. But, as I have said, as new buses are acquired over the life of the 9-12 year bus contracts (largely to meet additional demand), the GWRC is able to negotiate with the bus companies to acquire 100% electric buses – though of course as long as those buses are more expensive than diesel buses, we (you the rate payer and taxpayer) will pay a premium for them

    At the time when the new bus contracts expire (in 9 to 12 years), under the current PTOM model, GWRC will undertake a new tender process. At this point the GWRC has the ability to stipulate a new set of emission standards. At this point (perhaps 2027-2030) fully electric buses will undoubtedly be cheaper and the technology proven for Wellington. This would be the time when I envisage that the GWRC will stipulate no-emission buses.

    I acknowledge that cities like Shenzhen have made huge strides in introducing 100% electric buses – what I am not aware of is the funding model under which this has been achieved. You can probably be sure that it is not the same model (PTOM) that GWRC is bound to by law.

    With respect to the LGWM exercise, both heavy and light rail were rejected as options in the much-derided Wellington Spine Study. Some of us are now fighting to get light rail back on the agenda…largely reflecting the poor way in which the Study compared and costed light rail to bus rapid transit. Heavy rail has not been considered again since the Spine Study – the emphasis of many groups and councillors is on light rail. Light rail is enough of a challenge without thinking of heavy rail.

    LGWM does not have a mandate to look at the public transport fare structure. This is solely a GWRC issue. All fare transfer penalties for buses are being removed from June 2018. When full integrated ticketing is introduced in 2020/21 all remaining fare transfer penalties will be be removed with respect to transfer between buses, trains and ferries.

    I agree that one of the failings of the LGWM scenarios was not to adequately prioritise LRT from the Railway Station to the Eastern suburbs. I also understand that a range of groups have made very full and detailed submissions in this regard.

     
  8. Wellington Commuter, 30. December 2017, 12:36

    Daran, you said “GWRC has nevertheless entered a separate agreement to secure an initial fleet of 32 double-decker electric buses.”
    How much extra will it cost Transit to buy 32 electric doubledeck buses compared to 32 diesel double-deck buses ?

     
  9. Daran Ponter, 30. December 2017, 17:20

    Hi Wellington Commuter – in the range of an additional $2million. Transit then has to hope that the Government extends the RUC moratorium as this will have a bearing on cost for the future. I.e. for a while the operating costs of electric buses may be cheaper now than in the future – operators are having to speculate about when the RUC might be reintroduced. Note that the additional cost doesn’t, I don’t think, include the charging infrastructure.

     
  10. Wellington Commuter, 30. December 2017, 20:58

    Daran, upgrading 32 buses to 100% electric for just $2M extra sounds like a great deal. Or is it $2M more per year ?

     
  11. Henry Filth, 31. December 2017, 2:38

    Burning stuff is a filthy health hazard of a dead end for transport, for electricity, for anything. There’s a reason that London banned coal fires all those decades ago. For something a little more recent, ask the good folk of (say) Delhi if they’d like diesel-powered, petrol-powered, or electric-powered transport. Electricity is the transport fuel of the future. It may be battery-powered, or it may run off overhead wires, or a “third rail”. Battery power is probably the most flexible method. And at the end of the day, you can sell a second-hand battery bus fleet to (say) Napier, but I doubt they’d be interested in a set of trolley buses. Power for the people

     
  12. Cr Daran Ponter, 31. December 2017, 7:58

    Hi Wellington Commuter – this is the capex cost. So it’s a one-off cost, marking the difference in purchase price between the purchase of 32 diesel and electric double decker busses. It suggests that the costs for electric really are decreasing an d signals that we are not far off a situation where operators will employ new electrics by default (i.e. no more diesel purchases).

    Remember that the double decker electrics are still in the nature of a “trial”. If they are successful then I envisage that more will be rolled out during the 9-12 year period of the new bus contracts. I would like us to get to a situation, as they have in London where we have a series of core routes that are solely served by electrics…building to a point where we have a 100% electric fleet across the region.

     
  13. TrevorH, 31. December 2017, 8:02

    So to cut to the chase, Wellington’s public transport choices are determined from Hong Kong? This is the message I take from Cr Ponter’s narrative.

     
  14. Glen Smith, 31. December 2017, 8:06

    Daran. Once again thanks for being one of the few councillors who openly debates on these forums.
    Just to follow up on a couple of the many issues.
    You raise the possibility of full electric system by 2027-2030. However this would require the 228 new diesels to be mothballed or sold (presumably at a trivial price since diesels will then be ‘old’ technology incompatible with modern electric systems) only 9-12 years into their lifespan. Transit would have to recover the $350,000 price from the ratepayers, taxpayers and commuters you mention at the rate of $29-39,000 per bus per year. How does this compare to trolley/ battery hybrids?
    The on line ‘off the rack’ price for one of the common hybrids (the Solaris Trollino 12) is €450,000 or $750,000. However this is a European company and Chinese manufacturers such as BYD seem to commonly undercut these by around 30% (I can’t find Chinese prices on line- does anyone have more information?) In addition large orders often reduce price and the Trollino comes with a 69kwhr battery which is larger than required. I suspect a price in the $400- $500,000 range could be achieved (this is of course information that the GWRC as our professional representatives should be investigating). The Trollino comes with a 10 year warranty including battery and a 20+year life expectancy. At the end of the 9-12 year tender period they would still, being electric, be compatible with any new battery technology. Taking $400-500,000 and a 20 year lifespan the cost per bus per year would be $20-25,000 per bus per year.

    In addition the Trolley Projects Mode Efficiency Analysis concludes that in circumstances of existing infrastructure and over 300 departures per day trolley buses “may provide savings of over 20% in ‘real’ costs and almost 25% including social costs”. I asked you which aspects of their analysis you thought were inaccurate but you didn’t reply.

    In short if the GWRC had allowed providers to include trolley/battery hybrids options on their tenders, the savings would likely have paid for the electrical supply upgrade. Better yet we could give up this mindless ‘market’ system that gives demonstrably inferior outcomes, and go back to a publicly owned and run transport body that can undertake logical transport planning (Phil Twyford please take note).

    It may not be too late to recover from this debacle. The first thing would be to stop the vandalism of our trolley network. Broadspectrum have been contracted for $11 million to undertake this work but they look to be a versatile company and could be recontracted to do something constructive rather than destructive- I note that $200 million dollars of rail infrastructure maintenance is required soon. Similarly Transit looks to be an expanding company and could likely find uses for the 228 diesels where no trolley network exists. The electric supply system could be upgraded over time in conjunction with across town rail. Phil Twyford and Jacinda – time to act on your party’s pledge to combat climate change.
    Pigs will fly

     
  15. Cr Daran Ponter, 31. December 2017, 12:10

    Hi TrevorH: with respect to the trolley buses, yes, that is one way of reading it. To be fair though both the WCC and GWRC could have worked with Wellington Electricity in the 80s and 90s to put a continual upgrade programme in place for the substations. This didn’t happen so the substations effectively became obsolete.

     
  16. Cr Daran Ponter, 31. December 2017, 12:23

    Hi Glen: the Bus contracts are for the provision of a service. When the contracts come to an end the GWRC has no obligation to the operators with respect to assets they have purchased to fulfill those contracts. So, in 12 years time the GWRC can tender out the routes and specify new criteria/conditions. I would hope that this would include no-emission buses and that it will also include guaranteed wages and conditions for drivers and related staff.

    I’m afraid it is too late for the trolleys. The Government has reviewed the decision and decided not to act. Though there is still a possibility that the trolley might have a second life with Wrightspeed – there has been no recent word from NZ Bus on this.

    Note that many of the trolley routes will be different under the new route structure that operators have won tenders for.

     
  17. TrevorH, 31. December 2017, 13:06

    Thanks Cr Ponter for your reply, appreciated. Does the under-investment in and foreign ownership of Wellington Electricity’s substations have similar negative implications for light rail?

     
  18. Glen Smith, 1. January 2018, 7:20

    Daran. Happy New Year.
    I am, of course, aware that tenders are for service only – that is the whole point. Operators will be aware that, a bit like NZ Bus and their trolleys, they may well be left with worthless diesel dinosaurs in 9-12 years and will have factored this into their tenders. i.e. we will pay the full price for the diesels but only get 9 yrs use. As outlined above this, along with good evidence that operating cost for trolleys are lower, indicates that by destroying our trolley network we have not only been left with the most noisy, polluting, CO2 generating option but also the more expensive.
    As you say this is now a fait accompli.
    The interesting thing is that most professions have accountability mechanisms. But apparently not the GWRC. Councillors were aware of a trolley/ battery hybrid option (the Greens have advocated it for years), were advised by Jacobs it was possible, had good evidence that it is the logical (and currently only proven viable) fully electric transition option from trolley to battery, had good examples of functional network’s overseas using time tested technology that was immediately available, and had access (if they had bothered looking for 5 minutes) to good research indicating this was also likely the cheapest option. Yet they failed to assess this option in any way including failing to do even a basic business case. Despite this they incur no financial or professional consequences for so clearly failing to do their jobs properly.
    We can only hope LGWM do a better job. The signs aren’t good. And sadly, your statement that ‘heavy rail has not been considered again’ suggests that your mind has been closed to investigating any options for removing the transfer penalty at the station despite the evidence that this transfer serves no logical purpose, will be a potent barrier to PT utilisation forever, will likely end up costing tens to hundreds of millions of dollars per year forever (happy to run over some ball park costings if you like), and that a seamless rail corridor is eminently achievable (see previously referenced article on track sharing).
    I find this an interesting phenomenon. When faced with this situation, the logical process is to look objectively at what characteristics are required for trains to run on our existing network and then see if an across town corridor can be created that is compatible with these characteristics. The evidence, in my opinion, is that this is possible. Yet people hear the term ‘heavy rail’ (for which no definition exists) and immediately the intellectual shutters come down, the mind blinkers go up and, a bit like a trolley/ battery hybrids, the best and most logical options are ignored.
    Sigh.

     
  19. Cr Daran Ponter, 1. January 2018, 9:33

    Hi Glen, With respect to transfers from rail to bus and vice versa, this issue has been actively considered by GWRC and full electronic ticketing has been identified as the most opportune point at making this possible. The programme to implement full electronic ticketing is now quite well advanced.

     
  20. Cr Daran Ponter, 1. January 2018, 9:38

    Hi TrevorH, the provision of substations for LRT is definitely an issue that will need to be considered. I don’t see any reason why these units need to be owned by Wellington Electricity.

     
  21. City Lad, 4. January 2018, 19:41

    Incompetence cannot be tolerated. GWRC councillors ought to tender their resignations immediately, the Government to replace them with commissioners and hold an inquiry into the 2014 decision to dispose of all trolleys and infrastructure.

     
  22. Rumpole, 4. January 2018, 20:06

    My wife Hilda demands that Chairman Laidlaw sends us free taxi tickets until the arrival of his phantom Wrightspeed buses. And she’ll ask the taxi drivers to keep clear of inner city bus routes. Cancer fumes aren’t for us.

     
  23. Andy Mellon, 4. January 2018, 23:30

    When are the next Regional Council elections, and are we going to see some new candidates focused on these issues going up against the current bunch? Seems consistent with local government across the region that we need some new blood to shake up the disasters who get voted in time after time.
    It’s all well to complain, but at some point people will have to put their hands up to run a campaign against people like Donaldson, Lamason et. al.

     
  24. Dave B, 6. January 2018, 0:47

    Glen, you allude to the vagueness of the term “Heavy Rail”. Well as an advocate of extending “heavy rail”, my definition is clear and unambiguous: An extension to the existing system that enables the existing Matangi trains to run over that extension with appropriate segregation from other traffic necessary for that mode.

    Such a definition does not need to specify the actual weight of the trains. The same results could be achieved with lighter vehicles, provided that they can inter-operate with heavy freight trains, and that they have the same degree of segregation from other traffic necessary for proper “rapid transit” operation and isolation from vulnerable pedestrians/cyclists.

     
  25. Glen Smith, 6. January 2018, 12:55

    Dave. I view things from a functional viewpoint which is that the transfer needs to be removed. How this is achieved is less relevant – if it can be achieved by running Matangis than I would be ecstatic (and no one has yet given a good technical reason why this is impossible). However it doesn’t need to be Matangis (and I suspect they aren’t ideal). The aim is to expand the network which means more trains will be required and these can be tailor-made with specifications that are optimised for this role (travelling on existing lines and across town).

    Unfortunately as the track sharing website points out (http://citytransport.info/Share.htm) “introducing new track sharing systems can and sometimes does involve technical challenges – such as ensuring that the transports are physically compatible – however the most complex issues to be faced are usually best described as “human politics” with the various vested interests being – at best – sceptical but sometimes even showing outright hostility towards what is trying to be achieved”. Never a truer word spoken and sadly, a bit like a trolley/ battery hybrid network, I think the intellectual shutters in our planners are not only down but firmly bolted and locked.

    In June last year in an e-mail Chris Calvi-Freeman stated ” there is no proposal to model an extension of the current Metlink suburban rail service through the CBD or out to the airport. There is a range of reasons for this, which I would be happy to elaborate upon on request”. On expressing an interest in the reasons, none were forthcoming – instead in a follow up e-mail he stated “I am having ongoing discussions with a number of light rail proponents, many of whom have very high levels of knowledge on LRT systems worldwide, and the consensus is that a train/tram option is not workable in Wellington. My personal view is informed by several years’ senior management experience in the former New Zealand Railways, during which time I was responsible for rescheduling the entire Wellington suburban rail network. As such, I appreciate the peculiar constraints of the Wellington network, and can assure you that it would not be possible to introduce additional light rail services at peak hours within the constraints of the current track, signalling and multiple-unit operations, even if there was agreement that lightweight passenger units could operate on the same tracks as heavy rail passenger and freight trains”. In other words we should just trust the planners that there are technical and logistical reasons why across town rail can’t operate on our existing network (I would be interested in your and Brent Efford’s viewpoint on that).

    To overcome technical and logistical problems I stated “I have specifically designed my proposal using a ‘station’ design (with platforms the same height as existing infrastructure), across town units would be new specifically designed ‘lighter’ units with existing Matangi units servicing the current demand from the Railways Station, logistically the new across town units would ‘shadow’ current Matangi units (a minute or two later) producing no conflict with current services and new units would have dual voltage capacity compatible with across town travel”. No reply was received as to why these provisions wouldn’t overcome these technical or logistical issues, and no other additional technical or logistical barriers were identified. Perhaps if Chris or one of the other LGWM team read this they could advise the public about these technical and logistical barriers and we could try and help them to overcome them. I won’t be holding my breath – a bit like trolleys I suspect the mind blinkers are firmly in place.

     
  26. Dave B, 6. January 2018, 16:46

    Glen – the reason I advocate a heavy rail extension suitable for Matangis is that Matangis are what we have for the forseeable future. They are excellent trains, but are hamstrung by being confined to the legacy routes. There are ways of creating such an extension in the CBD relatively cheaply using a bit of lateral thinking. Unfortunately this concept has been ruled out in study after study and so no thinking happens at all. The Public Transport Spine Study ruled-out HRE (Heavy Rail Extension) in pretty-much the same devious way that it ruled-out LRT. The reason has to be that those who set the terms of reference do not want any rail solution. They want road-tunnels and flyovers.

     
  27. Sue Kedgley, 8. January 2018, 7:31

    Sorry to come in late to this discussion. Have been on a technology holiday. The stark reality is that despite an ‘in principle’ commitment to an all electric fleet, the Regional Council’s long term plan has provision for only 32 electric buses in the next ten years!!! At the very least, the Council should have kept the trolleys, which were in good condition, until they could be replaced with an electric alternative. Some commentators imply that all Regional Councillors supported the foolhardy decision to send our iconic trolley buses to the scrap heap; I want to reiterate that former Councillor Paul Bruce and myself spent three years desperately trying to convince our colleagues to save the trolleys, but to no avail, which was bitterly disappointing to us.

     
  28. Michael Gibson, 8. January 2018, 10:08

    Great to hear some facts from GW, especially from such a good source!

     
  29. Dave B, 8. January 2018, 13:45

    Thanks Sue. Nice to hear some free and frank words from a GW councillor that don’t simply try to justify the trolleybus-scrapping decision. Words that ring true with many of us here.

    How hard, really, would it have been to have held off this decision until a battery-powered fleet was properly available?

     
  30. City Lad, 9. January 2018, 7:41

    They’ll never be an “all electric fleet” without trolley buses. Timing for the removal of the overhead cable infrastructure that commenced this year late at night on 3 January, has the hallmarks of a Regional Council out of control. The public weren’t asked beforehand when that decision was made in 2014. And our new Government still recovering from their shock of winning the last election has failed to intervene. Our City Council hasn’t bothered to do anything either, too busy concerning themselves with the dream of a conference centre and film museum that nobody wants.

     
  31. Ian Shearer, 9. January 2018, 14:39

    An all electric public transport system is an inevitability. The only issues are when and how.

    Ironically, removal of the trolley bus network has absolutely brought forward the need for our local government(s) to make a decision to introduce a new all-electric public rapid-transport-spine system. A rapid spine service is the essential component that will allow Wellington to use smaller local electric buses and autonomous on-demand service vehicles to deliver people to their closest rapid-transport-spine hub.

    The decision phase of the Lets Get Welly Moving (LGWM) project is the next opportunity for development of proposals that will allow this decision to be made. The Transport Ministers are waiting for “more ambitious proposals” from LGWM. Scenario A plus light rail is the only acceptable option that will facilitate the development of an all electric public transport system.

     
  32. michael, 16. January 2018, 17:34

    Nothing as irresponsible as false economy is there?
    Living in the city is becoming less and less attractive as the smelly, extremely noisy second-hand Auckland buses appear on the scene. Last night there were seven of them lined up along Willis Street belching out their fumes and noise, which we are likely to have around for years.
    Taking the cheapest option will come at a huge cost as noise and carcinogen pollution start affecting the health and environment of inner city residents and workers. Wonder how many of these people will be GWRC councillors?

     

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