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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 [1]

News from Cr Paul Bruce [2] – December 15
Regional Councillors will vote on Wellington’s Bus Fleet strategy this Wednesday, as well as signing off on a new rail tender [3].

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.