Wellington Scoop

Ten double-decker electric buses starting service in Wellington next year

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
Wellington commuters will be able to travel on ten electric buses next year after the Regional Council signed contracts today with preferred tenderers Tranzit and Uzabus.

The two companies were chosen for nine bus routes across the region after the council called for tenders in August last year.

Greater Wellington Chair Chris Laidlaw says the introduction of 10 double-decker electric buses next July, followed by another 10 in 2020 and a further 12 in July 2021, will mark another phase in the evolution of the region’s public transport network.

“These are first steps in our ultimate goal of an all-electric fleet. Our immediate goal is to lower emissions. By mid-2018, 80 per cent of all buses will be new, the majority of which will comply with the latest Euro VI emissions standards.

“Their introduction, together with electric buses, will put us among the top performers worldwide for lower emission levels.”

He says the use of larger-capacity vehicles and more efficient scheduling will enable 400 buses to do the work of the current 500-strong fleet. This will reduce congestion, especially in the central city, and make journey times faster and more reliable.

“Tranzit has given us a commitment to employ as many bus drivers as possible, and on good terms, from the region’s existing workforce.”

Tranzit Managing Director Paul Snelgrove says the company will hire another 380 drivers, with as many as possible coming from the existing workforce.

“We’re ordering 228 brand-new buses, with as many built by the Kiwi Bus Builders team as it can handle.”

Mr Laidlaw says new timetables will be introduced alongside the new buses next July. A single ticketing system for travel on buses anywhere in the region and simplified fare structures will also be put in place next year.

“Taken together, all the changes will create a modern, efficient and connected bus network, supported by simplified fares and ticketing.”

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  1. Traveller, 17. June 2017, 7:21

    Thirty electric double-deckers and 288 new diesels? The balance sounds wrong.

  2. Keith Flinders, 17. June 2017, 13:49

    We take out of service 60 non polluting buses and replace them with ten, so totally at odds with NZ’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord.

    Worth pointing out that a double decker bus carries only 30% more passengers than a single on can with some passengers standing in the latter. Standing isn’t an option on the top deck of a double decker bus.

    My questions to the Regional Council re the ten battery powered double decker buses promised are:
    1. If employed on the north – south routes (they are not suitable for east – west) then how many return trips will they do between re-charging requirements?
    2. Considering the time needed to recharge how many hours a day will the buses actually be in service?

    Wellington’s terrain is not ideally suited to battery bus operations. For those who missed it, Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw was on National Radio on 16 June trying to explain all the bus changes, and was rather vague with some of his answers in my opinion.

  3. Rumpole, 18. June 2017, 9:08

    Laidlaw was worse than vague on the radio. Appeared to have no idea about what was happening and revealed no contracts have been signed. There should be an inquiry into why scrapping pollution free trolley buses was never agreed to by the public.

  4. Michael, 18. June 2017, 10:19

    So we are expecting by “mid-2018, 80 per cent of all buses will be new, the majority of which will comply with the latest Euro VI emissions standards”. Why are they all not expected to comply with the latest emission standards? In fact why are we having diesel buses in the first place?? We are going to be subjected to dozens of noisy polluting buses in the city. Shame so many of the decision makers live in the suburbs – maybe they wouldn’t be so keen on this backwards step if they lived in the CBD.

    Good luck inner city dwellers as your environment is going to become more compromised and unhealthy.

  5. mpledger, 18. June 2017, 19:21

    The new Chinese buses are scary enough on Cobham Drive in the wind especially when going around round-abouts. I wonder how the double deckers will cope with Wellington’s wind. And I wonder how they’ll cope with all the trolley wires. The wires will have to come down before they can be used unless it’s on some obscure route (which will presumably be hilly and twisty or they would have put trolleys on it.)

  6. Mike Mellor, 19. June 2017, 9:45

    mpledger: there seem to be some misconceptions here.

    1. There are no Chinese buses in regular service in Wellington – the newest ones operating along Cobham Drive are Go Wellington’s Alexander Dennis buses from the UK.
    2. The double deckers will be in Tranzit’s fleet, mainly on new route 1 between Johnsonville and Island Bay, while nearly all buses along Cobham Drive will continue to be operated by NZ Bus/Go Wellington, a single-decker fleet.
    3. Double deckers such as the two red ones with English Rose and London Transport branding and InterCity’s long-distance ones already operate under the trolleybus wires around the city and to and from Tranzit’s depot at Rongotai, so the wires won’t have to come down before new double deckers operate.
    4. But Wellington Cable Car is proposing to start dismantling the overhead in November, taking 12 months, so (sadly and stupidly) much of the overhead is likely to have gone before there are many double deckers on the road.

  7. Levi, 19. June 2017, 10:12

    Double deckers are lower than trolley bus wire height. There is no conflict.

  8. Keith Flinders, 19. June 2017, 15:06

    mpledger: Trolley bus wires are high enough to not present an issue to double decker buses, and could in fact be used to power a trolley version of them. Private double decker buses are from time to time seen using trolley bus routes. Where the issue lies is with the Karori and Seatoun tunnels, where double decker buses need to drive through the middle of them, hence will not be used for those two suburbs.

  9. Keith Flinders, 19. June 2017, 15:48

    Michael: The GWRC transport portfolio leader behind getting rid of trolley buses was Paul Swain, (replaced by Barbara Donaldson late 2016) and who lives in Upper Hutt so won’t be impacted by the added pollution in the CBD and Wellington suburbs.

    The Wellington City Council, who also should have been aware of the impact of the bus changes, seem oblivious to the fact that we will have more atmospheric and noise pollution with trolley buses gone and replaced with a 99% diesel fleet, albeit that it will be Euro 5 or Euro 6 one. If you want an illustration of the noise impact from new buses just visit Auckland. Horrendous.

    Four months ago I asked Wellington mayor Lester what pollution monitoring is to be put in place along the Golden Mile but received no answer. There is no monitoring presently, and the WCC – who are charged with ensuring the health, safety and well being of its citizens – obviously don’t see such as a priority. Wellington goes to all diesel whilst the rest of the world is working at speed to get rid of this unhealthy form of transport.

  10. Mike Mellor, 19. June 2017, 20:45

    KF: I don’t think that it’s fair to say the Wellington City Council is oblivious. They have no control and little influence over what the Regional Council decides: the Regional Council having decided that the trolleys should go, the WCC has to accept it as a fait accompli, particularly since the trolleys’ owners and operators (NZ Bus) and the power suppliers (Wellington Electricity) support the decision. If there are no suitable vehicles, no power and no support from the Regional Council, there’s little point in using WCC ratepayer funds to maintain the overhead in isolation. Sad, but true.

  11. Pseudopanax, 20. June 2017, 0:57

    What do Double Deckers mean for Wellington’s street trees?

  12. Michael, 20. June 2017, 13:43

    How is it that people who do not necessarily live in Wellington City get to make such enormous decisions concerning the city. Diesel buses will only add to problems associated with climate change and inner city living health.

    While the city council seems committed to a healthy living city, why have they not at least publically campaigned against the buses. The issue is a disgrace and the choice was probably made because it is the cheapest option.

    Shame on the GWRC and the WCC as they both are responsible for an enormous step backwards.

  13. Keith Flinders, 21. June 2017, 16:35

    MM: My oblivious comment was in relation to the environmental impact of a 100% diesel fleet, rather than apportioning at this stage, the blame to the GWRC, the WCC and Wellington Cable Car Ltd. WCC and GWRC each have a part to play in keeping our city as pollution free as possible, but the WCC hasn’t made any noises about the adverse effects with the introduction of more diesel buses. I asked the WCC about pollution monitoring along the Golden Mile, and seemingly there isn’t any.

    We had a rather limp reply from the previous mayor in 2014 when we were told that the trolley buses would be replaced with hybrids, an announcement made with no business plan and no idea of the cost implications. Not long after, when the GWRC had apparently found out the cost of hybrids, they reduced the number to be introduced to 6.

    Then 6 became no hybrids but instead NZ Bus trolley conversions to hybrids. Thus far no trolley conversion is being trialed on Wellington streets. Laidlaw in his recent radio broadcast stated hybrids were not satisfactory as they have many issues. About the only thing I agree with him in respect of buses.

    Wellington Electricity Lines stated in their 2016 report that they were able to extend the availability of the trolley bus power supply for another 10 years.

    Some rectifiers need replacing and safety shields will be required for the circuit breakers in WELL sub stations.

  14. Michael, 21. June 2017, 19:55

    If Wellington Electricity could extend the power supply for trolley buses for another 10 years, why on earth was that not done.

  15. luke, 22. June 2017, 10:48

    The golden mile is a clash between high pedestrian thoroughfare and public transport. The corridor isn’t wide enough for both so we will soon have more diesel fumes from buses pretending to be rapid making it more of a polluted mile.

  16. Keith Flinders, 23. June 2017, 12:25

    Michael: Trolley buses are going because 11 of the 13 2014 Regiional Councillors decided they should no matter what. They made the decision on misleading and incorrect information.They made the decision without doing a business plan. They made the decision without considering the environmental and health impacts.

    We were told that the entire electrical infrastructure serving the trolley buses needed replacing at a cost of $52million. When the entire infrastructure was reviewed by an experienced electrical traction engineer, he came to the conclusion that $15million needed to be spent to bring the deferred maintenance up to date and extend the life of the system to the remaining life of the existing trolley buses being 2026. Since 2014 several millions have been spent on the overhead wires bringing the reliability back to what it once was.

    We were led to believe that the trolley buses were clapped out, yet same vehicles were passing the equivalent of a warrants of fitness. Many buses were built after 2000. Next it was agreed that these clapped buses were suitable to convert to Wrightspeed technology.

    In my opinion the public have been sorely misled, and closed minds within the GWRC have made a decision that will impact upon the health of Wellingtonians for years to come. When US Secretary of State Tillerson visited recently, a concerned group made their displeasure known at the decision of his country to drop out of the Paris Climate Accord. If only we could see a similar group putting pressure on the GWRC to stop adding pollution to our environment with more dirty diesel buses.

  17. Michael, 23. June 2017, 23:04

    @Keith Flinders – Thank you for the info. I find the whole thing unbelievable and just can’t understand why WCC who, according to its website, “recognises the importance of Wellington taking an environmental leadership role as the capital city of clean and green New Zealand”, did not challenge the decision to introduce all these diesel buses = all talk and no action.