Wellington Scoop

New electric double deckers are “wireless buses for a wireless world,” says Laidlaw

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
Wellington’s new battery powered buses mark a major step toward a 21stcentury public transport system for the region, said the Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council Chris Laidlaw at the launch of its new bus network today.

Speaking at the parliamentary launch of Metlink’s new network and electric buses, Cr Laidlaw said: “Our electric double deckers are wireless buses for a wireless world. They will be the centrepiece of a world class bus fleet and a transformed network. They are New Zealand’s first battery powered bus fleet, and we believe they are the first fully electric double deckers in the southern hemisphere.

“We’ve set ourselves the target of a 100% electric bus fleet and the first stop on our way is 10 new double deckers this year and 32 by 2021. We have to be ambitious because transport emissions are a significant contributor to climate change,” says Cr Laidlaw. “For Greater Wellington, a 21stcentury public transport system needs to offer practical daily alternatives to private cars, as well as being genuinely sustainable.

“All of us need to think more about the environmental impact of our daily travel and, as a council, it is our responsibility to provide the sustainable choices our communities want. Making the move to electric buses is part of providing that choice, but our new approach has also delivered a significant upgrade of the rest of the bus fleet, and a bonus for customers and the environment.

“By early 2019, we’ll have more than 350 new Metlink buses on our roads – that’s 80% of our fleet. They’re built especially for our region and feature modern, efficient, low emissions engines. Customers will also really notice the difference in quality and comfort. The council and our four bus companies – Tranzit, NZ Bus, Mana and Uzabus – are investing tens of millions of dollars in buses that are quieter, more spacious and air conditioned.

“We want more people using public transport every day, so need an integrated network that can carry an expected increase of four million more passenger trips by 2024. We have to make Metlink buses, trains and ferries work together more smoothly so we can carry more people to more places, more often.

“When our new bus network starts on 15 July, train timetables will change too so they connect better with buses. We are also introducing a range of new fares and ticket types to encourage off peak use. In a few years it will get even easier for customers when Greater Wellington leads New Zealand in the introduction of a national integrated ticketing scheme, creating a single way to pay on all public transport.

“We’re really excited about the benefits this new network will deliver to our region,” says Cr Laidlaw. “Like any major transformation, it might take time to bed down, but customers and ratepayers will experience real gains in service and value over time.”

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  1. Wellington Commuter, 5. July 2018, 22:31

    Why don’t our “wireless buses for a wireless world” have Wireless Internet so passengers on the wireless buses can have wireless connections from their wireless phones to the wireless world?

  2. Andrew, 6. July 2018, 8:08

    Let’s hope Cr Laidlaw does not end up with New Zealand’s first motionless bus fleet when something goes wrong with the batteries, whether it is technical or cost driven. Do these buses have the capacity to be retrofitted with either a different fuel cell technology (once available) or a different power plant?

  3. Cr Daran Ponter, 6. July 2018, 22:59

    Wellington Commuter – wifi on buses unlikely ar this stage unless we can find a private sector provider to come to the party.

    Andrew – these ten buses are effectively a trial. There is a gap of a year before further DD EVs are delivered, to allow time for the buses to be evaluated.

  4. Roy Kutel, 7. July 2018, 11:18

    Err Daran, NZBus has had free wifi on its Airport Express for years!
    Just shows what operators can achieve on their own with no GWRC to slow things down with bureaucrats to brief, consultation process to follow, contracts to fill in and buses to paint in awful lime green.

  5. Wellington Commuter, 7. July 2018, 16:26

    @Cr Ponter … why not ? IT is very common on overseas bus services.

  6. Cr Daran Ponter, 7. July 2018, 17:13

    @ Wellington Commuter – different cities overseas will have different ways for paying for such a service. Unless we find a private provider who will provide wi-fi for free, it will need to be paid by ratepayers and through bus fares. While I have advocated for wifi in the past it is not considered a priority at this stage, along with heated seats and USB ports.

  7. Roy Kutel, 7. July 2018, 21:53

    Daran, the Airport Flyer is provided free of ratepayer subsidy and it provides free wifi. Try it sometime.

  8. CC, 7. July 2018, 22:07

    Cr. Ponter, what is the big deal about a few cents per trip on wi-fi. Oh, that’s right, we can’t detract from the profits of the preferred provider who sinks so low as to screw the drivers to enhance the bottom line.

  9. luke, 7. July 2018, 22:17

    with cheap mobile data & security issues, free wifi doesnt seem a priority to me.

  10. greenwelly, 8. July 2018, 9:04

    @Roy, Dont’t Worry there are moves being made to make life difficult for the Airport Flyer,
    Snapper have advised that they will no longer provide ticketing to them from Sept 30 – Snapper have said this is because the FLyer is not part of the metlink network.

    Would be interested to hear Cr Ponter on what the official position is regarding non metlink services using the “interim bus ticketing provider”

  11. Roy Kutel, 8. July 2018, 10:52

    GreenWelly – thanks for the heads up. I use the Flyer on my trips to/from the airport (domestic flights only as International flights depart before the Flyer starts and arrive after it finishes). I was given a complimentary Snapper card with $5 on it 5 years ago but it wouldn’t tag me off so I lost the lot. Never used it again. Funny how Snapper was developed by NZBus to start with and now acts against it.

  12. NigelTwo, 8. July 2018, 12:24

    If Snapper is to no longer be accepted on the 91 Flyer, it might be time to run a cheaper standard bus route to/from the airport. It’s strange how all the bus routes tip-toe around it.

  13. Michael Gibson, 8. July 2018, 15:57

    Roy – did you know that the Airport Flyer charges SIX dollars from Courtenay Place to the Railway Station?

  14. Cr Daran Ponter, 8. July 2018, 18:31

    Hi Roy – I’m a regular 91 user, paying those premium fares (for the Wi-fi and leather seats I suppose!). A good service but not particularly profitable for NZ Bus I suspect (perhaps that’s why they are looking to sell).

    Hi GreenWelly – Snapper is an independent provider. Commercial providers are free to negotiate their own arrangements with Snapper if it is viable for them to do so.

    Integrating non-Metlink providers into the Metlink Snapper system is made difficult by the fact that commercial operators have different fare structures than Metlink – i.e. what happens when you transfer from a Metlink Bus to an Airport Flyer in the offpeak – does the free fare transfer apply? Does the 25% off peak discount apply? At the moment the answer to those two questions is “No” because these are not services to which the NZTA and Regional Council transport subsidies apply.

    Before someone says “Well can’t you just add them into the network anyway?”, the answer is PTOM – the Public Transport Operating Model (i.e. these commercial services would have to be evaluated as subsidised services and tendered).

  15. Cr Daran Ponter, 8. July 2018, 18:34

    Hi Luke – yes, that’s pretty much the view that GWRC came to. I think wi-fi on public transport and at train and bus hubs is a good idea, but in the overall priority of things full integrated ticketing is a much bigger prize -and we have started the tender process for that – so progress at long last.

  16. Roy Kutel, 8. July 2018, 19:57

    I’d like to see more services outside the control of GWRC! Good on NZ Bus for running the Airport Flyer for so long without ratepayer support. When GWRC kicked NZBus in the teeth and their drivers in the wallets by handing the contracts out to non-unionised labour, I can understand NZ Bus’s decision to get out. Who wants to deal with an army of bureaucrats telling you what material to use for your bus seats and the precise lime green for your livery?

  17. Roy Kutel, 8. July 2018, 20:04

    @Micky G – yes I did know that they charged a high fare from CP to WRS. It’s to deter people from doing filling up seats since there are loads of subsidised buses plying the ‘golden mile’ aka ‘diesel soiled’ km of Wellington

  18. luke, 9. July 2018, 22:40

    perhaps there is an opening for a faster bus from cp to the wrs, one that shoots along the waterfront in five min. not the current shambles. i’d pay more for that.

  19. Ross Clark, 10. July 2018, 20:17

    Perhaps there is an opening for a faster bus from cp to the wrs, one that shoots along the waterfront in five min. not the current shambles. i’d pay more for that.

    Agreed – and this would assist in dealing with some of the access issues for which light rail is often seen as the answer.

  20. Jonny Utzone, 10. July 2018, 21:25

    Ross – I think there was a bus service that did did run along the waterfront but it was withdrawn for lack of patronage. There was also a ‘tourist’ bus that plied the waterfront route too but that also failed.

  21. luke, 11. July 2018, 9:09

    the big yellow double decker used to leave outside the station and cost $2 while the regular city section was only $1 at the time.

  22. Jonny Utzone, 11. July 2018, 12:01

    Luke – looks like there wasn’t enough time sensitive folk willing to pay a dollar more to go via the waterfront from WRS to C.Place.

  23. NigelTwo, 11. July 2018, 19:05

    @Jonny Utzone. There was a railway line along there too.
    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Te_Aro_railway_station
    Check out the photographs of the station. Just great.

  24. Jonny Utzone, 12. July 2018, 13:59

    NigelTwo apparently the heavy rail station to Te Aro was doomed by the trams!