Wellington Scoop

100 electric buses by mid-2023; part of plan to reduce regional emissions

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
The Regional Council’s Transport Committee this morning agreed to priorities for transport including contributing to targets that will see reductions in transport-generated emissions.

Transport Committee Chair Roger Blakeley says the committee agreed to strategic priorities for the 2019-22 triennium.

“These priorities are reductions in transport-generated regional carbon emissions, increases in regional mode share for public transport and active modes, early delivery of public transport elements of Let’s Get Wellington Moving, and more funding for regional rail,” Cr Blakeley says.

One of the key performance measures for these targets is the contribution to a 30 per cent reduction in regional transport-generated carbon emissions by 2030.

“The Regional Council will contribute to this target by accelerating the electrification of the public transport vehicle fleet to a total of 100 electric buses by June 2023.

“Our targets also include the further acceleration of the decarbonisation of the public transport vehicle fleet to achieve our own corporate target of being net zero carbon emissions by 2030,” Cr Blakeley says.

The transport-generated carbon emissions target meets the target in the national Climate Change Response Act 2002 of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It also recognises the recommendation of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018, which recommended that countries reduce their carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 to avoid a “climate catastrophe”.

“Currently 54 per cent of Greater Wellington’s carbon emissions come from our public transport bus fleets, so this is an area where we are able to make major improvements over the next 10 years.

“Contributing to the regional target of a 40 per cent increase in regional mode share from public transport and active modes, will be the major contributor to a reduction in carbon emissions,” Cr Blakeley says.

The Transport Committee’s mode share targets include an increase in public transport boardings to 44 million passenger boardings in 2022 – an increase from 40 million in 2019.

The mode share of active travel and public transport target is set at a level to reflect aspirations for good, affordable and healthy travel choices as well as the reduction in emissions.

“Today we are agreeing to an ambitious set of targets that aim to shift the region towards a more sustainable future,” Cr Blakeley says.

Read also:
Council has “vision” for lower emissions and safer roads


  1. Roy Kutel, 20. February 2020, 13:24

    Gosh back to the future. Now what happened to those Trolley Buses. Is it the same GWRC that got rid of them? [Same council. Different councillors.]

  2. Ben, 20. February 2020, 15:08

    Isn’t GWRC supposed to buy 80 electric buses this year? Does that mean only 20 more over the 3 following years? [via twitter]

  3. greenwelly, 20. February 2020, 15:30

    This “100 buses” promise is simply a re-announcement of something they have already said many times, but the 2023 date is a worse outcome than we had been led to believe. In 2018 we got 10 electric DDs, with the promise of 10 more in 2020 and 12 more in 2021. That’s 32.
    Now we know there are 66 “interim fleet” buses to be replaced by electric buses and we have been promised that an agreement to do this is “very close.”
    So that’s 98 buses, BUT 32 are supposed to be here by 2021, so does that mean we are stuck with the interim diesel fleet for another 3 years? When we had led to believe they would be replaced “soon.” Or will the 66 new electric buses be here in 2021 and the Regional Council will simply sit on its hands for the following 2 years… Neither options seem flash.

  4. Graham CA, 20. February 2020, 17:45

    The Regional Council does not buy buses Ben – the operators purchase and finance them and are reimbursed over the life of the contract (and in the case of full size double deckers only the life of the vehicle). The current lead time for new diesel buses is around 10 months and because of the demand, particularly in China but increasingly in Europe, the lead time for electric buses is likely to be even greater.

    In addition the Council and the operators are still learning from the experience of the introduction of the first 11 electric buses in Wellington in terms of operational effectiveness and other challenges. Remember the original electric double-decker fleet has gone from operating around 6 – 8 hours per day to up to 18 hours per day now, as they gain experience with the technology (and the technology gains reliability).

    And the lead time for supporting infrastructure is also a significant factor.

  5. Derek, 20. February 2020, 20:19

    Sorry WRC but this doesn’t wash – remove the electric trolley buses, replace them with diesels, and then claim by getting new electric buses you are reducing your emissions. So what you have is zero emissions in 2017, then add emitting buses from 2017 to whenever the operators get around to replacing the diesels, back to zero again. Net gain is nil, with at least 6 years+ of negative impacts.

  6. Dave B, 20. February 2020, 21:25

    Why are those electric double-deckers so noisy (as-experienced from inside on the lower deck) – particularly when working at high torque (eg up or down hills)? It sounds like some very graunchy reduction-gearing in the drive-train. The trolleybuses had reduction-gearing built into their drive-hubs, but don’t remember them being anything like as noisy as these battery buses.

  7. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 20. February 2020, 22:43

    Yes, certainly a learning curve for the bus operators (and GWRC). When the first double decker electric buses appeared, the charging mechanism was on the roof, which meant they were over-height and perfect for snagging power & phone cables. Someone didn’t think that through. Hence the current back-of-bus charging mechanism. Having watched the buses hook up to that in Island Bay a few times, I think there’s still some work to do.

    They were also over-weight, but that’s another story.

  8. Roger Blakeley, 21. February 2020, 16:37

    Hi Ben. We expect to get the contracts agreed by the end of this year but the roll-out of delivery of the 100 new electric buses will have to be phased in for funding and operational reasons with full delivery by June 2023. [via twitter]

  9. Michael Gibson, 23. February 2020, 6:57

    Roger – what do the present contracts stipulate about the noise and the smell?

  10. greenwelly, 23. February 2020, 17:20

    We expect to get the contracts agreed by the end of this year
    Ah, OK So what has happened over the last two months… In this thread in December Cr Ponter wrote
    “GWRC are in the final stages of agreeing with operators for new EV buses (additional in the case of Tranzit) to replace these old diesel buses … I expect orders to be placed in the New Year … and I am sure that you will all hold me to it.”
    But now it’s past “by the end of the year” So did NZTA refuse to agree to fund the deal Cr Ponter was talking about?? Or was there some other reason that ” in the New Year” failed to happen ??