Report from aktnz.co.nz
Wellington’s inner city trolley buses will have to run on battery power for over two months – with people stationed around the city employed just to take the bus poles up and down.
This is because work on the overhead network will begin in the central city from Thursday week so trolley buses can use the re-arranged Golden Mile bus route under construction in Willis and Manners streets.
By day, road building and footpath changes will continue to create a single two-way public transport spine through the city. By night, linesmen in cherry pickers will work above the street, installing new overhead wires and equipment.
New dark grey poles, that the trolley bus wires will be attached to, have already been installed in places along the new route and new overhead equipment is about to arrive from Switzerland. Installation and reconstruction work will take nearly three months, starting at the intersection of Willis and Mercer streets.
But the problem is that from late September, the power to a section of the central city trolley bus network will have to be disconnected. Transfield Services, the company doing this work, can’t work on a live network and will have to remove parts of the old network to construct the new one.
This will mean changes for some buses and bus users at all times for just over two months. Greater Wellington Public Transport Manager Wayne Hastie says from late September there will be a temporary route operating in one direction via Wakefield and Taranaki streets and in others, buses will run on battery power for a short distance.
That’s when people will be stationed at different locations around town to take the bus poles down and put them back up as quickly as possible to minimise delays.
The old trolley buses could only operate on the wires, but the new buses are capable of running on battery power.
The battery back-up system is primarily designed for emergency use but in preparation for this work Go Wellington has conducted trials and say trolley bus services can be maintained while the work is carried out.
Wellington City Council Infrastructure Director Stavros Michael says the changes are an important part of the Golden Mile project and the most significant to be made to the overhead network for almost 30 years.
“With the growing awareness of climate change and the need for sustainable forms of transport, new trolley bus networks are being upgraded, constructed and proposed around the world all the time,” he says. “We’ve not only retained our system – the only one in Australasia – but Greater Wellington, Go Wellington and the Government have invested in it in recent years by replacing all the old trolley buses with new, more reliable models.
“These new buses, the real time information panels that will be installed at city bus stops next year and the more direct bus route through the city that will be operating by Christmas, are all steps towards a better, more reliable public transport system -along with Wellington’s new electric trains.”
This report includes material from a WCC news release.