Wellington Scoop

Metlink adding 98 more electric buses – 31 will be double deckers

buses electric 2
From left to right: Cr Daran Ponter – Chair, Regional Council; Keven Snelgrove – Tranzit; Brendan Prince – NZBus; James Howard – Tranzit; Cr David Lee and Cr Roger Blakeley – Regional Council

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
Metlink is to boost electric buses from 2 to 22 per cent of its fleet to meet climate change goals and passenger growth.

The ink has dried on contracts for 98 new electric buses, which will take Metlink’s fleet of electric buses to 108, significantly reducing its carbon footprint and taking the regional council a step closer to its target of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Metlink has 450 buses in its active fleet in the Wellington region – 10 of which are EVs, making up two percent of the fleet. Once the 98 buses are added, the proportion of EVs will rise to 22 per cent which, excluding market leader China, is high by international standards.

Seventy-three of the buses will be used on scheduled services with a further 25 to be progressively added to routes to meet network growth. The new electric buses will eventually take 61 diesel buses off the roads, leading to a 17 per cent drop in carbon emissions and a similar reduction in harmful emissions.

The council is delivering on its promise of a building a modern low emission bus network according to Chair Daran Ponter.

“I’m sure that people across the region will be pleased to see another 61 diesel buses taken off the road and this will drive real climate benefits by deploying the new electric buses on high use areas of the network.

“Just like our plans for rail, this is also about ensuring we have a fleet in place that can cope with rising population trends and demand for public transport over the next few years. That’s why 25 buses will be used to accommodate forecast passenger growth without an increase in emissions,” added Chair Ponter.

Climate Committee chair Cr Thomas Nash said we have to provide attractive alternatives to our current 20th century car culture if we’re serious about responding to climate change.

“Over the last two decades transport emissions rose by 14 per cent across the region, mainly from fossil fuel burning cars and trucks.

“We need a real step change here and we know we can move far more people with far fewer vehicles if we provide high quality public transport. A modern, comfortable low emission fleet will play a key role in attracting new passengers, encouraging them to embrace public transport. We’ve got an opportunity to break free from the car-dominated landscape that’s been driving pollution in our cities – let’s take it,” added Cr Nash.

Roger Blakeley, chair of the council’s Transport Committee, said that the new fleet will also attract more bus drivers.

“This new fleet shows our intentions for growing the network and obviously more buses means more drivers. We want buses that drivers can be proud of and these state of the art buses, many fitted out in New Zealand, will help us attract drivers who we want to be at the forefront of the public transport industry in New Zealand and internationally.”

As part of the deal, NZ Bus will source 67 ready-to-go large single decker EVs from China and Tranzurban will build 31 double decker EVs at Kiwi Bus Builders in Tauranga, with parts sourced from world leading Chinese bus manufacturers.

NZ Bus CEO Barry Hinkley said he was delighted that NZ Bus was making a significant contribution to NZ’s environmental performance, commenting that growing the number of EVs in its fleet is the right way forward as NZ Bus looks to a future of reduced fossil fuel usage.

“With these 67 new electric buses, NZ Bus is proud to be having the largest EV bus fleet in New Zealand. With these new orders, we will see our EV fleet grow to at least 85 buses in the short term.

“Obviously, we all should try and do as much as we can to look after our environment; taking public transport is a great way of reducing emissions, and electric public transport is an even better way.

“We’re committed to doing our bit to help reduce emissions in New Zealand and at the same time provide people with a safe and easy way to get around,” said Mr Hinkley.

Tranzurban Director Keven Snelgrove said today’s announcement is a clear demonstration of the company’s commitment to partnering with the regional council and pioneering and investing in electric bus technology and infrastructure in New Zealand.

He says the 31 new double deck EVs will add to the company’s fleet of 10 New Zealand-built double deck EVs successfully in operation in Wellington already.

“This new fleet will deliver multiple benefits of being New Zealand built, adding to our modern and reliable electric bus fleet and help reduce carbon emissions and air pollution for Wellingtonians.” The buses will be delivered between mid-2021 and early 2023.

Daran and Keven

News from TranzUrban
Tranzurban is delivering on its twin promises to build a modern and reliable electric bus fleet and help reduce carbon emissions and air pollution for Wellingtonians. Today, in partnership with the Regional Council (GWRC), it was announced that Tranzurban will add 31 new double-deck electric buses to its Wellington fleet. The company’s Transport and Operations Director Keven Snelgrove says today’s announcement is a clear demonstration of the company’s partnership with GWRC and delivering on its promise to build a modern and reliable electric bus fleet.

He says Tranzurban introduced 10 double deck electric buses into Wellington in 2018 as part of the Metlink bus network, in collaboration with GWRC, and had committed to incrementally adding 22 more by 2021. However, with the company now including an additional nine EV buses, it means 41 double deck EVs will eventually transport passengers around Wellington.

Mr Snelgrove says the EV fleet was proving to be extremely successful. “Earlier this month our EV double deck fleet travelled over 2000km in a single day meaning we saved approximately over 1300 litres of diesel and prevented around 3.54 tonnes of CO2 entering Wellington’s atmosphere in a single day. If we are to extrapolate these figures over a total fleet of 41 EV double decks per annum, then the environmental benefits will be significant,” he says.

Metlink passenger Jeran Clarke recently travelled on one of Tranzurban’s EV buses on the No.1 route and enjoyed the experience. “I had my first ride on one yesterday, never been on a smoother more quieter bus in my life!” Mr Snelgrove says feedback like this is common.

“Passengers love travelling on our EV buses and our drivers love driving them. They’re clean, green and make the most our country’s renewable energy.”

Tranzurban’s EV journey began in 2014, after its parent company Tranzit partnered with Auckland University of Technology in a joint application to the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund. After developing EV1, New Zealand’s first commercially operated 100% battery powered electric bus now based in Auckland, the company collaborated with GWRC to introduce 10 double deck EV buses and supporting charging infrastructure into Wellington.

These buses were built by New Zealand owned company Kiwi Bus Builders in Tauranga, as will the 31 strong new fleet be.
Kiwi Bus Builders Managing Director Richard Drummond says up to an additional 30 staff will be brought on as the project develops and comes at a critical time after COVID-19. “This is really great news. It continues the joint accomplishments already achieved between Kiwi Bus Builders and Tranzit and gives us a strong foundation and opportunity to build back up. It also enables us to continue our world leading research and development projects we’ve previously worked on.”

The buses will be built using chassis and electronics sourced from world leading Chinese bus manufacturer CRRC/UT and batteries from CATL. New charging infrastructure will be installed at Tranzurban’s Grenada depot adding to chargers at the company’s Rongotai depot and a fast charger at Reef Street in Island Bay.


  1. Wellington Commuter, 26. June 2020, 16:44

    More electric buses is probably great. I say probably as the Metlink press release has 772 words & no mention of how much this will cost or who will pay. Wellington City used to pay all the $5M/yr in extra costs for trolley buses. Are extra costs 2B shared across all ratepayers? [via twitter]

  2. Roger Blakeley, 26. June 2020, 16:51

    Yes, as you know, the costs of public transport are shared across fares paid, ratepayers and NZTA subsidies. [via twitter]

  3. David, 26. June 2020, 20:38

    The best news is they’re taking some of the toxic diesels off the road. But this will only happen in up to 3 years time and only 61 of the diesels will be decommissioned – leaving 379 diesels still making the golden mile a great pace to avoid during the rush hour.

  4. Mike Mellor, 26. June 2020, 22:12

    This is good news. But as I understand it the buses are owned by the operators, not by Metlink (alias Greater Wellington). [Correct. We have amended our headline since the news was first published. Daran Ponter has clarified: The bus companies are purchasing and will own and operate. But we sign off the purchase as we effectively bankroll the purchases through the contracts we have. i.e. they can’t just purchase what they like.]

  5. Roger Blakeley, 27. June 2020, 5:33

    Single decker EV buses cost around $700-750,000 and double decker EV buses cost around $1m. In this order, Tranzurban will purchase 31 DD EVs built at Kiwi Bus Builders in Tauranga with parts sourced from China, & NZ Bus will purchase 67 large single decker EVs from China. [via twitter]

  6. IanS, 27. June 2020, 8:19

    More electric buses are welcome to help get rid of the crappy diesels. But GWRC is not buying anything – they are spending our rates to subsidise bus companies to purchase electric buses so that they can remain relevant and sustainable companies. More double deckers will further slow loading times and cause more bus chaos through the city. Clearly the LGWM project announcements supporting light rail have had to be delayed until after NZ First has been eliminated from Government in September. The delay is annoying – but the result may be much better.

  7. Justin Lester, 27. June 2020, 10:11

    Hats off to the Regional Council who saw the vision of Electric Buses versus trolley buses, despite the difficult transition. At last count, only 40 buses ran on trolley wires so a big gain for electric. [via twitter]

  8. Felix Geiringer, 27. June 2020, 10:12

    I’m not with you on this, Justin. The trolley buses were removed 3 years ago. What this says is that so far we have only 10 electric buses operating and that Wellington intends to continue to use diesel for another 10 years. [via twitter]

  9. Mike Mellor, 27. June 2020, 12:27

    This is really good progress, and will be welcomed by the long-suffering passengers on route 2, the east-west spine (currently by far the worst high-frequency service) – and by people and the environment along that route, too.

    Metlink should grasp this opportunity to promote its electric bus services, and two good ways would be:

    – give the electric fleet a distinctive livery, so that it’s clear to everyone that clean, quiet buses are back in significant numbers;
    – assuming that route 2 becomes Metlink’s first all-electric route (a no-brainer, surely?), give that route a special identity of its own, celebrating its transformation from an embarrassment to poster boy.

    By my calculation these buses will mean Wellington will have 108 electric buses, re-establishing it as the country’s leading bus fleet. That’s certainly an advance on the 60 (not 40) trolleys when the system closed in 2017 – but still a way to go to match the peak trolley fleet!

    The 25 new buses for passenger growth are an excellent initiative, and there’s one way that that growth could be stimulated without any new buses. Waiting half an hour (or more) on the street after an evening out for the bus home is hardly an incentive to use public transport, and is in flat contradiction with Metlink’s “high frequency” label. A bus every 15 minutes on the main routes right through the evening would make all the difference.

  10. Cr Daran Ponter, 27. June 2020, 12:30

    @ Felix. This is a very good move, and we will continue to add more electric buses to the fleet. We are also working with operators on converting diesel buses to electric.

    In addition we are pushing the Government on the purchase of battery-electric trains and East-West Ferries will shortly introduce New Zealand’s first electric ferry.

  11. Toeknee chesnut, 27. June 2020, 12:46

    Will the old diesels be destroyed? How will they be prevented from being sold to campervan enthusiasts or other bus companies?

  12. Joe, 27. June 2020, 13:16

    Metlink is doing a great job making councils, government and media happy.

  13. Martin, 27. June 2020, 21:35

    Tried one doing the #1 route. Freezing cold inside. Do the new ones have working heating?

  14. Kara Lipski, 28. June 2020, 12:36

    Looking back to when one of the Regional Councillors thought there were 10 electric double deckers (being used on the routes controlled by Tranzit), and less than 10 were actually operating – I can’t help thinking that we are not going to see anywhere near the 98 electric buses on our roads. Until all diesel buses are off the roads we will have to put up with PPM2.5 pollution.

  15. Michael, 28. June 2020, 22:42

    If only electricity could be supplied via some kind of overhead wire system.. Oh wait…

  16. Keith Flinders, 29. June 2020, 2:14

    Martin: To run the heating and air conditioning in battery buses reduces their travel range. This wasn’t an issue with trolley buses we had, and isn’t a major issue for trolley buses that can run either on or off the wires.

    Obviously heating in diesel buses is derived from the otherwise waste heat of the combustion process, but along with it comes cancer-causing particulate matter and noxious gases too.

  17. Andrew, 29. June 2020, 11:16

    I’m all for electric buses but Lester’s comment is disingenuous at best – electric trolley buses should have been kept while phasing in battery buses as they became available.
    Ripping out the electric trolley bus wires and replacing the trolleys with clapped out cast off diesels before there were enough electric battery buses to replace the trolleys was unforgivable.
    Might have even been one of the reasons certain people are no longer on the council…

  18. Revolt Wellington, 29. June 2020, 15:35

    Thank you, Roger Blakeley and the Regional Council for this! Finally, we are back on track to rectify one of the biggest mistakes in recent council history. It’s taken 4 years, but we’re getting there.

  19. Michael, 29. June 2020, 23:21

    The beauty of a fixed public transport system (ie trolley bus or tram) is that the public know a service will eventually arrive – overhead wires or tracks in the street are visual clues. AA diesel bus has nothing … it might arrive or it may not. These EV buses are no better than a diesel in this regard.
    How polluting is it to make these batteries and how polluting is disposal of said batteries? How long will these batteries; last how many trips could a EV bus make in a day before recharge? How much time is needed to recharge?
    Biggest mistake…to abandon and not upgrade the trolley bus electrical system would have been more economical. Low-floor trolley buses are available.
    Clean green city not.

  20. Concerned reader, 1. July 2020, 14:39

    Interesting but deeply concerning. I googled CRRC to look at their technology, This manufacturer is trying to undercut in every market in the world – rail, batteries and now buses. They are 100% Chinese government owned and seem to have a track record of supplying below cost to undermine local manufacturing and supply chains. EVs are good for the environment but but at what cost – our skills and long term jobs. My concern is whether GWRC are asking the right questions of the service providers.