Wellington Scoop

Sealing the fate of the trolley buses

by Ian Shearer
The Greater Wellington Regional Council is meeting today to seal the fate of the trolley buses, and approve the principles to be included in the new bus tenders. This is my plea to councillors considering this issue.

I start by saying “bravo for the climate agreement” – I believe that politicians have been forced to agree to take action by an overwhelming number of people (particularly young people) across the world. It is a win for democracy that no politician should ignore.

I want to acknowledge the actions and submissions of local and regional governments: they are also important in the collective efforts to promote a strong climate agreement. Greater Wellington can be proud of its climate plans and submissions as part of this process.

However, our work is not done. Cities and regions must continue to lead with ambitious local climate actions, and must work with our national government to implement stronger climate commitments. We all need to ramp up the level of sustainable energy ambition in our lives.

Our Regional Councillors are responsible for selecting our future public transport systems and we want them to be remembered as representatives who confirmed sustainability and livability as essential elements in the provision of public transport in the Wellington region.

The three decisions that our needed, on our behalf, today, are:

1. Please ensure that the tenders for public transport do not tie us into 15 or more years of fossil fuel bus services. We need to transition to other options. The bus service tender documents must facilitate the transition to use of clean green electricity. We need to know about the options available, their benefits and their costs.

2. Ensure that the existing electric trolley buses remain part of the transition to new electric public transport:

a. The existing trolley buses have already been refurbished and are high capacity vehicles able to provide many more years of service.

b. There are enough trolleys to operate at least one of the longer routes, and the wires are already installed – such as Karori to Island Bay, or Miramar.

c. If the current bus operator says they want to get rid of these trolleys, please allow the people of Wellington to join with the council to buy them back and run them as a separate community owned company. We can do this.

3. Please start planning for a modern electric tram system. Amend the current 10-year plan to include “planning for the introduction of trams”. Regional COuncil staff will already know that the proposed BRT bus system will only provide short-term relief to our congestion, pollution and lack of capacity problems. Trams take time to plan and implement. We need to start developing them now.

Sustainable public transport is one essential step to help us reshape our world. Today I ask regional councillors to make these important decisions that will produce huge benefits to the sustainability, livability and health of all Wellingtonians.

Regional Councillors vote against keeping trolley buses