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Where’s the “electric future” for our buses?

bus-transport-strategy

by Gillian Tompsett
By sanctioning the purchase of new diesel buses, the Greater Wellington Regional Council continues to undermine the government’s cornerstone strategic commitment to environmentally sustainable public transport systems that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite the government’s calls for transport solutions that “reduce adverse effects on the local environment and public health” with an emphasis on “value for money”, bus companies operating in Wellington persist in purchasing far more diesel buses than electric.

Regional Council press releases from 2017 talked up the new Euro 5 & 6 buses, claiming a “30% reduction in tailpipe emissions”, but failed to include greenhouse gases in their calculations. Thanks to work done by ReVolt Wellington, the CEO has admitted that CO2 was not included in their emissions monitoring.

Greenhouse gas emissions from public transport have gone up 15-20% since the changes to the bus network.

The unambitious target of 30 electric buses within 3 years and the recent purchase by NZ Bus of an additional 17 new diesel double-decker buses in February, (with more diesels slated to replace the older Euro 3 and 4 buses that operate in significant numbers on the No.2 route), are clear signals that the “electric future” promised by Chairman Laidlaw in 2017 is not on track to arrive in Wellington within the life of the current 10-12 year contracts.

The Regional Council’s own regional transport plan described the choice of modern diesel buses as the cheapest and worst-performing option on carbon emissions.

The almost 1,000 signatories gathered in a petition across Wellington last year calling for government intervention, together with mounting frustration expressed over the last few days, are a strong indication that patience with the Regional Council is fast running out.

It’s time for a shift in thinking that prioritises the replacement of diesel buses with electric.

No more obfuscation from the GWRC. No more diesels.

Gillian Tompsett is a member of ReVolt Wellington
www.revoltwellington.co.nz

22 comments:

  1. Napoleon Dynamite, 15. March 2019, 12:32

    The electric buses are coming. These things don’t just happen overnight. Give it 2 more years and I’d expect to see 50+ electric buses on the streets of Wellington.

     
  2. Casey, 15. March 2019, 14:01

    I would like to know your source of this information, Napoleon Dynamite. Expectations are not the same as reality. New diesel buses purchased this year, and last, will be on Wellington streets for the next 10 years at least. 22 more double decker battery electric buses are scheduled to be delivered over the next 2-3 years, for north – south routes. The ten already here are infrequently seen on Wellington streets. No plans have been announced to provide battery electric buses on the east – west routes where old diesel ones now operate. Wellington ward GWRC councilors have failed us.

     
  3. michael, 16. March 2019, 9:56

    I find it incredulous the GWRC’s epic failure to provide an environmentally sustainable public transport systems for Wellington has not resulted in a major government inquiry and change in transport responsibilities. I have had enough of GWRC’s ineffectiveness and excuses and call on the government to step in and establish a panel of qualified experts to oversee Wellington Transport before it is too late.

     
  4. steve doole, 17. March 2019, 12:29

    Yes, GWRC purchasing decisions appear to be against public opinion.
    London has 9000 more buses than Wellington (about 23 times as many ) and started moving to hybrid diesel-electric buses in 2014. In March last year London had 3250 hybrids and 96 electrics, but doesn’t plan to be emission-free until 2037.
    Paris has about 4,700 buses, including 800 diesel electric hybrids, 140 bio-fuel, and 74 electric, and plans to be emission-free by 2025.
    And a longer distance example is electric buses for 150-kilometers between Paris and Amiens to the north.
    Perhaps GW hasn’t worked out that cheap solutions often give poor results.

     
  5. michael, 17. March 2019, 15:18

    Yes Steve . . .it is usually false economy to take the lowest tender and Wellington seems to be suffering as a result of this attitude.

     
  6. Marion Leader, 17. March 2019, 16:08

    It’s the noise of the ex-Auckland buses that I can’t stand.
    I also agree about the fumes of course.

     
  7. Paul, 18. March 2019, 12:04

    @ Napoleon Dynamite, in other words give it two more years and we will still have fewer electric buses on our roads than we did before GWRC removed the trolleys. Is that visionary leadership, or gross incompetence?

     
  8. Mike Mellor, 18. March 2019, 16:30

    The agenda for Wednesday’s GWRC Sustainable Transport Committee says “3.3.1 Future fleet – GWRC and NZ Bus continue to work together on the provision of buses to replace the retired trolley bus fleet” (p40).
    So carry on watching this space…

     
  9. greenwelly, 19. March 2019, 11:55

    Oh, and to totally rub salt in to the wound,
    The 2019/20 regional council rates for Wellington city ratepayers are going up by 16%! I mean what are we supposed to be paying for, it’s certainly not a bus service.
    (See page 16) –
    http://www.gw.govt.nz/assets/council-reports/Meeting_Documents/7576_Agenda_Council%2021%20March%202019,%20Order%20Paper.pdf

     
  10. Alan, 20. March 2019, 13:51

    Isn’t it a 6.5% increase, not 16%? 6.5% is bad enough. Why can’t these people live within their means like the rest of us have to. It’s a sick joke.

     
  11. greenwelly, 20. March 2019, 16:32

    @Alan, 6.5% is across the whole region – Wellington City is 16.1%.

     
  12. James S, 20. March 2019, 16:35

    It’s 16.1% for Wellington city ratepayers, because our property values have gone up more than in other parts of the region.

     
  13. greenwelly, 20. March 2019, 17:19

    @james S, it’s driven by the fact that the local councils don’t have the same revaluation dates. Wellington city’s revaluation happened in 2018, but Porirua and Hutt don’t do theirs until later in 2019. This means that Wellington ratepayers get clobbered this year, because they are getting 3 years of large property increases while the others basically get an inflation adjustment.

     
  14. michael, 20. March 2019, 18:46

    You have got to be kidding – an increase of 16.1% for what!! How can GWRC justify this. Our transport system is in chaos with little resolution in sight. And, unless the WCC drop their expensive vanity projects, we will no doubt be hit with another increase for the library as well.
    When will the GWRC and WCC accept that ratepayers are not a bottomless pit and restrict their spending to the basics, as most of us long-suffering rate payers have to do!

     
  15. Mike Mellor, 21. March 2019, 12:11

    greenwelly, revaluations don’t clobber the average ratepayer. Revaluation doesn’t change rates take, all it does is redistribute that take: for everyone who gets clobbered there’s equally someone who pays less.

    It all depends on whether your revaluation goes up less than the average, where you pay less for the same rates take; or more, where you pay more. “3 years of large property increases” is not a relevant factor.

    So that doesn’t explain such a large increase for Wellington city. What does explain that, I don’t know.

     
  16. greenwelly, 21. March 2019, 12:44

    @Mike, the issue is that Wellington city are using valuation data from 2018, while others (at least Porirua and Lower Hutt) are using 2016 values.

    So the Wellington values are all hugely up compared to the other cities….
    So for the general rate Wellington city residents get whacked compared to the rest of the resgion..

     
  17. Mike Mellor, 21. March 2019, 15:02

    greenwelly, I see the footnote that prompted your and James S’s comments – “The variations in rates impact reflects differences in targeted rates and the fact that property values have risen faster in some areas than others” – but I can’t see how that works.

    Wellington city’s regional-wide rates are increasing by 6.7%, not that different to the regional average, so the proportionate rates take is barely increasing and my comment should apply. But the general rate take per $100k of valued residential property is by far the highest in the region, at $50.98, which indicates that it’s not Wellington values being hugely up that’s the issue, it’s the amount that GWRC is charging per unit of value. (Next year, bizarrely, it’s said to drop to the lowest in the region.)

    So “Wellington values are all hugely up compared to the other cities” may be correct, but that does not explain why “Wellington city residents get whacked compared to the rest of the region”.

     
  18. greenwelly, 21. March 2019, 15:57

    Well whatever the reason was it just got dumped.
    “Proposed 16 per cent rates rise for Wellington City thrown out by councillors … after several councillors expressed their concerns. A new document will be tabled for councillors to discuss when they next meet in April.”
    Maybe someone noticed there is an election coming up in 6 months.

     
  19. NigelTwo, 21. March 2019, 20:21

    @NapoleonD. Have a go at translating the last paragraph in this release, the one that starts with “Looking further ahead…”. I don’t see much of an electric future in there but you might?

     
  20. Cr Daran Ponter, 21. March 2019, 22:06

    Pushing for purchase of next tranche of double-decker electrics to be brought forward and to increase the size of the order. Justified by things like:

    A. the 4.8% patronage increase year on year Feb 2018 and Feb 2019 (before you keyboard warriors jump in, I’m quoting from yesterdays STC agenda paper – figures take into account transfers)
    B. likely need for additional buses to accommodate meal break requirements.
    C. Additional route miles likely to come from review of network.

    No significant progress with NZ Bus – live in hope.

     
  21. Tony Jansen, 22. March 2019, 9:55

    Sigh….closing the stable door after the horse has bolted?

     
  22. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 23. March 2019, 18:59

    Tranzurban have 10, with more v soon. Everyone’s keen that Wgtn goes completely electric ASAP, but it will take some time. If about half the fleet went electric, about 90% of trips would be electric, leaving the diesels to run just the school & some supplementary peak trips etc. [via twitter]

     

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