Wellington Scoop

Electric buses waiting for new fast charger pick-up


Report via Facebook from Daran Ponter
Many of you will be aware of Wellington’s new fleet of ten double decker electric buses – the first such buses in the Southern Hemisphere …. designed and built in New Zealand.

Paul Eagle MP and I went down to Reef Street, Island Bay, yesterday to talk with Paul Snelgrove and James Howard from Tranzurban about these buses.

These buses are a trial fleet – this means that they are being evaluated and tweaked, to pave the way for a further order of double decker electrics

A charging station has been operational at Reef Street for some months. However, its use has been limited by the need to redesign the pick-up from the charger.

The new pick-up, designed and built in Wellington, will be mounted on the back of the double deckers. This replaces the need for a pantograph pick-up on the roof – which was in danger of being taken out by trees and overhead lines.

As the new pick-ups are fitted the buses will move to full-day operation – first to last bus, seven days a week.

The fast charger takes 4-8 minutes to charge a bus to 98% battery charge….so not for use with your cellphones!

I have started pushing for the next tranches of double decker electrics (22 more in total) to be brought forward.

Negotiations are continuing with NZ Bus on the conversion of the trolley buses.


  1. Roy Kutel, 15. January 2019, 7:34

    Remember the trolley buses which were charged on the go, and the promise of GWRC they’d be converted to WrightSpeed being developed by NZ Bus? I wonder how long these DDs will last, what damage they do to our pavements and how much more they cost ratepayers than the NZ Bus’s trolley buses that GWRC detested so much?

  2. Concerned Wellingtonian, 15. January 2019, 8:51

    Please would somebody remind me who voted to bring down the overhead wires?

  3. NigelTwo, 15. January 2019, 11:43

    This picture reminds me of those blurry UFO snapshots of the early 1960s. If you used your imagination anything could be seen! What do I see here? A photo-shopped bus with an ironing board clipped on the rear and a coil of “super store” orange 230V extension cord. I presume the latest idea is to plug the bus into a mains outlet the end of each run. I do know that would be hopelessly inadequate but the GWRC might buy it. [Click on the photo for a smaller, clearer image.]

  4. Traveller, 15. January 2019, 11:59

    It looks as if they have a problem. (They didn’t realise that pantograph pickups on the roof would have been too high?)

  5. Graham C Atkinson, 15. January 2019, 12:22

    Wrong Traveller – this was known from day one and was part of the design negotiations including manufacturers and transport authorities prior to the order being placed. It was always known that the operation would be subject to some specific requirements. What has changed is the new charging system will enable these buses to be used across the whole network over time rather than restricted to specific streets.

  6. Jonny Utzone, 15. January 2019, 12:36

    Well they won’t fit through the Hataitai tunnel will they? There won’t be sufficient clearance, so I can’t see the Tramways Union drivers agreeing to drive such buses through the tunnel.

  7. Graham C Atkinson, 15. January 2019, 13:31

    All double decker buses (including the Electric with the rooftop pantographs) will fit through the Hataitai Bus Tunnel – never been an issue

  8. Graham C Atkinson, 15. January 2019, 13:35

    If you want to see the charging system in operation (as opposed to the “grainy” picture) this link should suffice.

  9. NigelTwo, 16. January 2019, 14:07

    Wow, I see the animation now. Perhaps the soundtrack should have been The Thunderbirds March. FAB Daran.

  10. Ishmael, 16. January 2019, 16:10

    I’ve seen an electric double decker at the top of the Brooklyn hill. Can anyone tell me how many times it can do the climb before needing a charge, whether that includes a load, and how long the recharge takes? [via twitter]

  11. greenwelly, 16. January 2019, 17:00

    @Ishmael: What goes up must come down.. regen will put a fairly good portion back into the battery. But to expand the use of EV DDers to Brooklyn, they need to complete the Fast charger at the Wellington Terminus. (This would also help the Number 1s, as they could do a partial charge outbound to Johnsonville on the way through.)