Wellington Scoop

Regional councillors vote against extending use of city’s trolley buses

A majority of Wellington regional councillors today voted against an amendment that proposed to extend the use of the city’s trolley buses beyond 2017.

The amendment was proposed by Councillors Paul Bruce and Sue Kedgley. But it failed to get support.

Regional Council’s news release on today’s decision

News from Cr Paul Bruce – December 15
Regional Councillors will vote on Wellington’s Bus Fleet strategy this Wednesday, as well as signing off on a new rail tender.

If you would like to give some support to councillors fighting for a smarter transport solution, please come at the commencement of the meeting for public participation presentations at 9.30am for 15 minutes. After that, the decisions will be made with the public excluded.

Any Regional Council procurement deal should signal a rapid pathway to end the use of diesel.

Trolley buses are an intermediate transition step to light rail and battery buses, and prioritising their use on the west/east corridor and Lyall Bay routes would improve capacity without compromising the Wellington Bus Review or the use of higher capacity vehicles. They also effectively provide protection for the spine corridor for the only real long term solution, of light rail.

Wellington needs to follow the example of the Austrian city of Linz, which is renewing its trolleybus fleet with vehicles that have sustainable off-wire capability so that all the local bus services can be provided by zero-emission vehicles. Maximising the use of the trolleybus overhead line equipment to both drive the vehicles and charge their batteries (or super-capacitors) rather than relying on fast charging in terminal layover times that often aren’t available makes huge sense”.

The situation in Shanghai is also relevant to Wellington – the trolleybus system was slowly closing down and being replaced by battery buses. The battery buses are rechargeable at certain stops through an overhead collector which connects with a power source mounted on a roadside pole. Their experience was totally negative and has resulted in Shanghai ordering a batch of 60 new trolleybuses to replace them. http://www.icshanghai.com/en/information/2014-04-19/21342.html

Light rail of course, offers significant advantages along a spine, with faster loading through multiple doors, low labour costs with variable capacity and greater land value increase through transit orientated development. As this will take 10 years to develop, light rail should be put in the long term plan immediately through an amendment.

Globally, Governments have now signaled an end to the fossil fuel era, committing for the first time to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. This means bringing down greenhouse gas emissions to net zero within a few decades, and we need to begin that process right now.


  1. Roland Harmer, 15. December 2015, 3:48

    A couple of further points:

    Stavanger, Norway, has decided to introduce trolleybuses for their BRT system. http://www.trolleymotion.eu/www/index.php?id=38&L=3&n_ID=2378

    There are, according to Trolleymotion, 305 trolleybus systems worldwide – not the 127 total given in the Jacobs report. http://www.trolleymotion.eu/www/index.php?id=4&L=3

    In Western Europe trolleybus use did decline in the 1960s and 70s but in the last 20 or so years the situation has become stable with modest growth – for instance Lublin and Salzburg.

  2. Tim Jones, 16. December 2015, 17:47

    A very disappointing decision and one that sends a terrible signal about Wellington’s commitment as a city and region to taking meaningful action on climate change, not to mention becoming a more liveable and people-friendly city.

  3. Curtis Nixon, 16. December 2015, 18:08

    Get rid of the GWRC

  4. luke, 16. December 2015, 18:20


  5. Wendy Donald, 16. December 2015, 18:48

    So soon after the Paris agreement, what a backward step!

  6. Mark W, 16. December 2015, 21:22

    Oh the irony…first the report that NZ needs to step up its game given the Paris Climate Accord, and then we get rid of our electric trolleybuses and replace them with diesels…Lets get rid of the GWRC once and for all

  7. Roland Harmer, 17. December 2015, 0:20

    In Europe, China and North America the move is towards the electrictification of urban street transport. In France over 20 tram systems have been installed – in Britain six systems have been put in and they are growing. Montreal is considering using trolleybuses. Elsewhere in Europe trolleybuses with batteries are being used to extend trolleybus use beyond the wires – Lanskrona and Eberswalde as well as Linz, mentioned by Cllr Bruce earlier.

    There are many statements in the PWC report that are questionable. Let’s hope that this decision can be reversed.

  8. Simon Atkinson, 3. January 2016, 17:09

    Keep the trolleybuses going. Greater Wellngton Regional Council need to look at 4 case studies. Shanghai in China which is the oldest network in the world that has been going since 1914. Moscow in USSR with the world’s largest trolleybus network of 104 routes with 1740 trolleybuses according to Wikipedia. (Another source: 97 routes served by 1598 trolleybuses according to Trolleymotion) and 8 depots. The 2nd largest trolleybus network is in Minsk in Belerus with 1031 trolleybuses to cover 60 routes. Look at Moscow and Minsk: they have been renewing their fleet in a very big way especially Minsk. Minsk as of 1 year ago has a 90% wheelchair accessible trolleybus fleet. And also look at the Crimea interurban trolleybus system between Simferopol and Yalta of90 km long that started in 1959 because it was too steep for the trains to climb up a hill. Imagine catching a trolleybus from Wellington to Levin. That is how long the route is. Hope GW will look at these case studies.