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

bus-transport-strategy [1]

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 [2] 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 [3].

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 [4] 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 [5] across Wellington last year calling for government intervention, together with mounting frustration [6] 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 [7]