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$763,000 grant will convert old trolley buses to battery power

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
The conversion of more than 50 former Wellington trolley buses to battery power will put Metlink among world leaders in the shift to zero-carbon public transport, says Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw.

Mr Laidlaw welcomed today’s announcement by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, EECA, to provide a $763,000 grant to convert the city’s former trolley buses to battery power, calling it a powerful endorsement of the council’s pledge of a 100 percent electric public transport fleet.

“We are proud of leading the way in making this happen. The conversion of these buses to battery power marks a significant milestone in the strategy to shift our public transport away from fossil fuels and towards a sustainable future. And what makes this a truly unique story is that the electricity will be largely generated from the city and region’s best-known characteristic – its wind.”

Mr Laidlaw says Wellington city could be one of very few – and possibly the only – city in the world which had a public transport fleet powered by renewable electricity generated within its own boundaries.

“This decision is a major step towards the vision of a 100 percent electric public transport fleet. Indeed it is difficult to think of a more compelling example of a city and region taking meaningful steps to reduce its transport emissions.”

The grant is the largest of the $4m in grants from EECA in its latest round of subsidies to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.

The money will be used by bus operator NZ Bus to install fast-charging stations for its former trolley buses at its Karori and Kilbirnie depots. With fast charging, the project will deliver lower emissions while avoiding peak electricity prices and distribution network congestion.

The converted trolley electric buses are expected to be on the road from January 2019.

“It was always our ambition to re-purpose these trolley buses and teach them some new tricks. The fact that they don’t need overhead wires makes them a lot more versatile and resilient than they were in their former role.

“Together with the newly-introduced double-decker electric buses, they will build on a journey that we have only just started.

“We welcome this grant from EECA as a strong endorsement of our decision to move towards an all-electric public transport fleet. This is a great addition to Wellington’s growing international image of being a creative and future-focussed city and region,” Mr Laidlaw said.

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10 comments:

  1. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 7. August 2018, 22:10

    Sounds like very good news on the horizon: the Govt grant will allow conversion of 50 trolley buses to run on batteries, on route 2: Miramar to Karori, starting early 2019. [via twitter]

     
  2. Roy Kutel, 8. August 2018, 7:35

    These ex-trolley buses were powered by electricity 100% so the grant adds not a single electric vehicle to the 2018 fleet! It just makes the axing of the trolley buses even more expensive. And the total conversion cost will be millions more than $760,000. Watch those rate-bills go up again.

     
  3. Jonny Utzone, 8. August 2018, 10:47

    Hey Roy – good point but it would probably have been more accurate to have said the 2017 fleet before it was poleaxed by GWRC, and WCC was doing its Pontius Pilot impersonation.

     
  4. Peter456, 8. August 2018, 11:54

    That $750,000 to NZ Bus will make NZ Bus and their shareholders happy. They were already undertaking the conversion of the unwanted trolley buses anyway …just became cheaper eh. [via twitter]

     
  5. Stephan, 8. August 2018, 12:05

    Fantastic news! Finally some forward thinking *and* action.

     
  6. NigelTwo, 8. August 2018, 13:07

    Count the zeros here. This is less than a million dollars. It’s only a drop in the bucket.
    The grant is a contribution towards two charging stations. For comparison, the Island Bay charging station was reported to cost an estimated $1.5m

     
  7. Jonny Utzone, 8. August 2018, 16:21

    NigelTwo – $1.5 million for one battery charger! You can get a good one from Repco for $50. GWRC huh!

     
  8. Paul, 8. August 2018, 16:59

    Chris Laidlaw exercising his newspeak again:
    “The conversion of these buses to battery power marks a significant milestone in the strategy to shift our public transport away from fossil fuels and towards a sustainable future. ” mmmm except that they were already electric, so there is zero shift, and in the interim we go backwards and get 18 months of extra diesel fumes.

    “Indeed it is difficult to think of a more compelling example of a city and region taking meaningful steps to reduce its transport emissions.” hahahaha, when reduce actually means increase

     
  9. Michael Gibson, 8. August 2018, 18:06

    Chris, can route 2: Miramar to Karori go past the Hospital please?

     
  10. luke, 8. August 2018, 19:06

    I dont want the #2 to go past the hospital, I prefer a quicker trip to town. Besides you can transfer for free if you need to go to the hospital.