Wellington Scoop

Transport plans: the good, the bad and the ugly


by Conor Hill
National released its transport package for Wellington and the Hutt Valley last week. Everything in it is familiar to anyone following Wellington transport plans, but it’s worth a look.

The Good

Maintaining the spend on buses, bikes and walking committed to by Let’s Get Wellington Moving. Wellington will be a much better place for these changes.

The clarity of the new spending. Aside from already committed government spending and some rural trains, everything else is a road. For Wellington city, the new spending is just a dust off of old motorway plans. I don’t agree with it, but at least I know what it is.

More central government funding for some bigger ticket items than Let’s Get Wellington Moving, in which the ratepayer picks up 40% of the tab. This makes it easier for other parties to commit to fully funding their preferences.

Under grounding SH1 in Te Aro. No one really likes having State Highway 1 running at ground level through our city. I’m dubious about the cost, but I’d be happier if all those cars went underground.

The Bad

While I like the clarity of the new spending, it’s still all roads. It amazes me that a party can commit to the Zero Carbon Act AND to an endless tarmac pour.

Moving away from light rail as the mass transit solution. For technical, capacity, operating costs and congestion reasons, light rail is the best solution for mass transit from the railway station to the airport. National have scored a lot of points on this topic, but it’s the wrong decision for Wellington.

The cost. Some of the biggest new commitments – like undergrounding SH1 in Te Aro and Grenada to Seaview – are not in any real sense costed by NZTA. While National say they are committing to $4billion of new spending, don’t be surprised to see these roads cost twice that.

The feasibility. In 9 years, National couldn’t do anything in Wellington city, and regionally only completed a botched rush job of the Kapiti expressway. It stretches credulity to believe that National will be able to deliver anything like what they are promising.

The Ugly

While happy to discuss generalities, National don’t seem to be prepared to fully commit to anything concrete with regards to congestion charging. If you are seriously interested in busting congestion, then this has to be part of the solution.

National want to see an “extra Mount Victoria Tunnel and widening of Ruahine Street/ Wellington Road to improve access for buses and dedicated walking and cycling facilities.” This almost sounds like the second Mt Vic Tunnel will be for buses and bikes. But my bet is that it is some form of double speak, in which providing more road space for cars somehow magically makes things better for people on bikes and buses.

On the topic of widening Ruahine Street, it’s worth noting that this probably means taking land out of the Town Belt. It will be interesting to see if our Mayor’s oft stated love of the Town Belt manifests itself in relation to this.

There’s a lack of detail around Mass Transit. It amazes me that 5 years after Let’s Get Wellington Moving started, none of our politicians can commit to a route and mode for mass transit. To be fair, this is not just a critique of National.


The National package can be summed up as Strong Roads, More Roads, Better Roads. If you believe (against the evidence) that more roads fix congestion, then you’ll like this package. It’s good to see most current plans for public and active transport supported, but it’s a bad idea to denigrate light rail, and it’s a real shame there is no clarity around mass transit and congestion charging.

Lastly, the cost and timeframes of this package and National’s other transport plans are purely speculative. In the event National wins the election, there’s a good chance Chris Bishop, National’s transport spokesman, ends up as next term’s Phil Twyford – a smart guy, good in opposition, saddled with a bunch of undeliverable projects.


  1. James, 10. August 2020, 10:07

    Wouldn’t light rail and bike lanes reduce the number of cars on the road, thereby reducing traffic and pollution, and freeing up parking? Why is this so hard to fathom. I commuted for years by bike while living in Europe, not even using a helmet (as was the custom) on very safe separated bike lanes. Biking in Wellington is madness, very brave bikers out there. I despair of ever seeing meaningful progress in Wellington transportation. National is surely sticking its head in the sand but I see only token efforts from the other parties.

  2. k, 10. August 2020, 12:36

    Not that I support National’s plans, but more roads doesn’t necessarily clash with a net zero carbon target given that the electrification of vehicles has begun and would likely be well advanced by the time these roads would be finished.

  3. Conor Hill, 10. August 2020, 15:28

    Hi k – though it does take a lot of carbon to make both new cars and new roads. Also worth noting National fiercely fought the feebate scheme last year which would have accelerated the electrification of NZ’s fleet.

  4. Michael, 10. August 2020, 17:35

    Get on with it and build the light rail, through route it with a converted Johnsonville line, more trains for the Porirua and Hutt Valley lines, this in turn would likely shorten the lengthy bus route 1. You know it makes sense

  5. Hel, 10. August 2020, 20:03

    Conor, “in 9 years National did nothing”. Pukeahu, kapiti expressway, SH2 overpasses at Petone and Hayward’s, not to mention the long promised Transmission Gully. Thecurrent mob and the Council have in 3 years delivered nothing but the hot air that is LGWM.

  6. John M, 10. August 2020, 21:38

    Conor, “Let’s Get Welly Moving“ is a joke, a sad reflection on all who have been involved. National’s plan is simple and sensible and they are better known for getting on with it than the other mob. Of course WCC will yell and scream in a desperate effort to stop anything constructive happening but hopefully for the sake of us all they will be ignored.

  7. Peter S, 10. August 2020, 23:16

    Do my ears deceive me? Was at the Nats’ public meeting on their “roading package” and heard Chris Bishop extolling the virtues of public transport and cycling. He even uttered the words “the future is electric”. Am I in a parallel universe?

  8. Conor, 11. August 2020, 9:51

    John – if LGWM is a joke, it’s a joke that National have signed up to in this package. It was after all National who began the process after their Basin flyover debacle.

    Hel, I did miss some minor projects, though Haywards was started under Labour in 2007. I did mention the Kapiti Expressway which was a rush job for the 2017 election and required years of resealing. As to Transmission Gully, I think the fact National are no longer pushing public private partnerships tells you they have learned from that mess.

  9. greenwelly, 11. August 2020, 9:57

    >He even uttered the words “the future is electric”. Chris Bishop has had a Leaf for the last few years

  10. K, 11. August 2020, 10:14

    @PeterS does that change in tone perhaps have something to do with National not building more SH2 lanes between Hutt and Wellington? (increased Rail services into and around the Hutt & the new Petone to Wellington cycleway are the only way to cure that bottleneck) And maybe some bad internal polling in his electorate? (Would be hard to see anything but a Labour win in Hutt South in the current environment)

  11. John Rankin, 11. August 2020, 10:28

    While LGWM has so far moved at the pace of a leisurely snail, both WCC and GWRC voted in favour of the strategy and recommended programme of investment. The current Wellington mayor voted for it at the time, although he has since proposed modifying the sequence of priorities. All our locally-elected representatives have endorsed LGWM’s multi-modal approach and the goal of moving more people with fewer vehicles.

    If a new central government can come in and throw LGWM under a bus, what is the point of local elections? It seems that every time the central government changes, we start all over again. This is no way to approach long term urban planning. LGWM has set a direction and gained broad local support for its proposals (although we can all find things we don’t like; that’s life). Enough talk, let’s just get on and fund and build it.

  12. Peter S, 11. August 2020, 12:09

    Furthermore, Mr Bishop also said that he would cycle from the Hutt to Parliament if there was a decent cycleway. Wow!

  13. Kerry, 11. August 2020, 12:19

    Michael. Speaking as the main author of the original study, there is no longer any point in converting the Johnsonville Line to light rail. Ridership has grown too much. Street-running trams would be too short to give sufficient capacity on a single-track route, and double-tracking would cost too much.
    It might be worth extending light rail to Kaiwharawhara, for connections to both ferries and (some) cross-platform interchange with trains. Or a terminus at the Railway Station — probably the principal hub in any case —might be more cost-effective. But the rest of the route is fine: Waterfront, Taranaki St, PukeAhu, Adelaide Rd, Riddiford St, Mansfield St, a tunnel to Kilbirnie and on to Miramar and the Airport.
    One loose end is where the Mt Albert tunnels comes out at Kilbirnie, but it can doubtless be solved.

  14. greenwelly, 11. August 2020, 13:47

    To be honest the question that really needs to be asked is will light rail get support from the next government now that Labour have abandoned the concept of an on-street at-grade roll out in Auckland.. . “Our policy is that light metro is the form of rapid transit that Auckland needs. We’ve decided very clearly that we need a rapid transit system that’s not competing with pedestrians and other cars in the road corridor.”

  15. Kerry, 11. August 2020, 15:56

    Greenwelly. Sure, it is a good question, but do Labour know what they are doing?
    Light metro will be quicker to the airport — whether in Auckland or Wellington — but quicker for fewer people, and much more costly. In Auckland, a more cost-effective approach is Dominion Rd, because it will serve many more people than an optimum city-to-airport route. Similarly in Wellington, Riddiford St is a much better route because it serves a denser population than the ‘obvious’ Hataitai route. Worse, going by Hataitai bypasses Wellington Regional Hospital, surely a prime target for light rail, with level boarding at all doors.
    Light rail (also called modern trams) can run overhead where necessary, but overhead stops are a nuisance. They need steps or escalators, often with lifts too. Light metro stops are always a nuisance.
    In contrast, modern trams have completely level boarding at all stops and can easily take wheelchairs, prams or sometimes cycles. Footpaths can be at platform level, or easily used ramps are another option.
    Labour Party thinking might be that taking two lanes for light rail will delay motor traffic too much, but does this matter when a tram lane has ten times the people-carrying capacity of a car lane? (Global Street Design Guide, WCC is a member)
    Light metro is usually a railway technology and cannot run at street level, so the whole system will have to be above or below ground. If it runs above streets it will need supporting columns in the road, and will run close to first-floor windows. The only alternative routes will be buying a swathe of private land (pricey) or going underground (very pricey). Tram technology is much more flexible because it has special brakes and can stop as quickly as a bus. It is also much cheaper, because it can run on-street.
    There will be a few places, such as the narrower sections of Riddiford St, where there is no room for two traffic lanes and two tram lanes. But this doesn’t matter. Parking space can be off-street (which is already happening), and there is width available on Owen St, only 200 metres away.

  16. John Rankin, 11. August 2020, 17:28

    Light metro has two big advantages over on-street light rail:
    – it’s faster, because it’s not sharing road space with people on foot, on bikes and scooters, or in cars
    – it’s more frequent, because physical separation means no driver is needed so it can use cars half the length running twice as often

    In Auckland, it would be quicker for everyone on the line, not just those going to or from the airport. Unfortunately, we don’t know the proposed route or station locations, so cannot necessarily conclude that it would carry fewer people. Presumably, it would have the same number of stations as surface light rail, so may attract more riders to a faster, more frequent service. It is in competition with people in cars using the Auckland motorway network, so speed and service frequency matter a lot. If surface light rail has more stations than the equivalent light metro line (like a streetcar service), this will make it even slower and less attractive than driving, except for short trips (in which case light rail would be little better than a bus).

    I have not noticed underground or overhead stations being a barrier to people with pushchairs or bikes using Vancouver’s SkyTrain light metro. On the contrary, my observations are that the SkyTrain carries a more diverse cross-section of Vancouver residents than those using Wellington’s buses. Unlike Wellington’s commuter trains, the SkyTrain is busy (many standing passengers) all day every day.

    At about 3 times the cost per km as surface light rail, light metro is probably only an option in cities bigger than Wellington, like Auckland. In Wellington, a surface route to the eastern suburbs via Newtown is indirect so will necessarily take longer than the more direct Hataitai route. To offset this, it would be wise to invest in elevated sections over busy intersections along the corridor, as Kerry identifies, and run down the centre of the street elsewhere (no cross traffic allowed).

    Light rail from Kaiwharwhara to the airport by 2030 please. Clearly, given the cost of the National party’s road proposals, money is not a problem.

  17. Michael, 11. August 2020, 19:13

    Thank you Kerry for your comprehensive explanation

  18. John M, 11. August 2020, 21:35

    When are we going to face reality. The “light rail” dream/nightmare is not going to happen anytime soon so please let’s move on! I think it’s fair to say the pipe dream has given a platform to the Wellington “Stop Everything”” brigade to justifiably (in their mind) stand in the way of so many good, sensible, achievable, projects.

  19. TrevorH, 12. August 2020, 13:20

    @ John M. I agree. Light rail would be expensive, inflexible and vulnerable to earthquake damage as well as having limited patronage for much of the day on the airport focused route. It is a 1950s Eastern European approach to Wellington’s congestion which it would do nothing to solve; in fact it would only add to the disruption of traffic flow.

  20. Lindsay, 12. August 2020, 13:24

    TrevorH: buses on most routes have very limited patronage for much of the day. Do you disapprove of them too?

  21. Keith Flinders, 12. August 2020, 14:29

    And how thrilled light rail users, if it is ever built, will be to spend an extra 10 – 12 minutes going each way via Newtown from the eastern suburbs to the CBD and back.

    The lack of forward thinking and lack of appreciation of the passenger growth potential would see a light rail service placed where users would not make best use of it.

    Why the focus on it must go via the hospital Miramar to/from the CBD. Equally why must it go from the airport via the hospital. A one route fits all solution is not planning for the future, but the NZTA and local authorities never have. Focus is on lowest cost, not long term value.

    Miramar – Hataitai – CBD and Newtown/south – CBD are future requirements considering the expected population growth.

    Running light rail along the Quays ignores the issue that the removal of two lanes from the existing six will cause. The result will be massive gridlock unless vehicle numbers are reduced by at least a third from 2020 levels. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    Even now with a lane out at Brandon Street, as it has been for nearly two years, causes congestion at and near evening peak hours along Customhouse/Jervois.

  22. TrevorH, 12. August 2020, 14:46

    @Lindsay: Roads can be used by a wide variety of vehicles for many different purposes during the day, eg tradespeople going to jobs, logistics, emergency services etc; light rail or tram tracks cannot.

  23. Mike Mellor, 12. August 2020, 19:43

    TrevorH, just a few comments:

    * “Light rail would be expensive” – true, as will any decent rapid transport system – and cheaper and environmentally better than creating equivalent capacity for cars;
    * “inflexible” – i.e. predictable and reliable, which is why transit nodes are selected for development (see the latest Government policy statement) – you can’t do that with “flexible” routes;
    * “vulnerable to earthquake damage” – tell that to the Japanese, who have many earthquakes and lots of expanding rail systems;
    * “limited patronage for much of the day” – route 2 buses, the main current bus equivalent, are often full to standing at any time of the day;
    * “on the airport focused route” – it’s a hospital and eastern-suburbs-focused route, terminating at the airport;
    * “a 1950s Eastern European approach” – it’s a worldwide 21st-century approach, with many modern rail systems have been and continue to be built in Western Europe, North America, Asia;
    * “… to Wellington’s congestion which it would do nothing to solve” – that would be contrary to worldwide experience;
    * “in fact it would only add to the disruption of traffic flow” – light rail will get people off the road into far more space-efficient vehicles, improving the flow of people and freight, etc.

  24. John Rankin, 12. August 2020, 21:59

    What @MikeMellor said, plus:

    * “emergency services” routinely use the light rail lane in cities overseas (they are designed that way)

    * “light rail users … will … spend an extra 10–12 minutes going each way via Newtown” – if you do the arithmetic, a light rail trip from the station to airport via Newtown would take 20 minutes, which is 10 minutes less than the airport bus (assuming the design is optimised; it may not be). I’d like to see evidence to support the claim that a more direct route would take 8-10 minutes (especially if it runs on the Golden Mile which, being a busy pedestrian area, would have a speed limit for light rail of 20 kph)

    * a route that splits at the Basin Reserve with one leg to Newtown and a second to the eastern suburbs has 2 disadvantages:
    — you need to run twice as many trains to maintain the same service frequency as a single line
    — trips that start on one leg and end on the other require a transfer

    Advocates of a split route, like @KeithFlinders, need to show that the benefits to eastern suburbs riders heading to and from the city centre outweigh the costs of running twice as many trains (or waiting twice as long) and losing passengers making inter-leg journeys.

    I expect the rapid transit business case to consider both route options. I’ll stick my neck out and predict that, provided the Newtown route is optimised for speed, the Newtown route will outperform the split route option. If the Newtown route isn’t so optimised (say the journey takes 30 minutes, the same as the airport bus), the split route option may perform better.

    * “light rail along the Quays … will [create] massive gridlock” – in fact, light rail on the Quays will more than triple the people-moving capacity of the Quays from about 4000 people per hour to over 12,000 people per hour in each direction. Could we have an example of a city where putting in a light rail line has caused traffic gridlock, please?

    The congestion at Brandon St is the result of 2 northbound lanes merging into one. Past Brandon St, where the one lane widens to two, the traffic flows more freely. Replacing a traffic lane with light rail does not have the same effect as a pinch-point. This is why NZTA closes the northbound passing lane at Te Horo over Christmas.

    * We need to remember that, unlike the suburban train service, urban light rail aims to attract riders all day, every day, not just peak period commuters. The journeys that people make outside the morning and afternoon peaks are generally not “in and out of the centre” but chains of shorter trips (eg, to the shops, then the hospital, then home). The two-legged route is a peak-period, commuter-centric design. The string of pearls route is an all-day, every-day design. The all-day, every-day market is much bigger than the peak-period, commuter market. Given the cost of building light rail, it makes sense to design it for the biggest possible market.

  25. Kerry, 13. August 2020, 10:18

    Keith. Nobody is proposing that one light rail route fits all. That is achieved by designing the bus routes around light rail. Bus routes can converge on the Miramar hub, timed to arrive a minute two before the tram, and leave when all passengers are on board. Passengers readily accept transfers if their overall trip is faster and more reliable, which should not be difficult in Wellington. At Miramar, most or all passengers might transfer to light rail, because that would be the simplest and quickest option.
    Similar arrangements can be made at Kilbirnie, the Regional Hospital, Te Aro and the Railway Station. Passengers can make timed connections between buses and light rail, giving all passengers the opportunity to make reliable anywhere-to-anywhere trips, all day, every day.
    Running light rail along the Quays will increase the people-carrying capacity of the street eight- or ten-fold, but that won’t work during the construction period. Construction delays are inevitable but manageable, just as they are for road-building. The simplest options are car drivers travelling earlier or later, spreading the peak, or car-pooling. Others will choose bus or train.
    Sydney is an example of some appallingly bad light rail construction and operation: Sydney trams now run at half the speed of the old trams on the same route. Wellington has a simple option to avoid this kind of thing. Hire a small team of experienced European consultants, to advise LGWM and monitor the New Zealand consultants doing the design work.
    It is worth remembering that total light rail costs — for construction and operation — are cheaper than buses for peak-passenger flows of more than about 3500 passengers an hour, comparable with present-day bus passenger numbers on the golden mile (it is grossly overloaded). Light rail can carry many more passengers behind each driver, reducing wage costs, and overall maintenance costs are about the same as for buses.

  26. Dave B, 13. August 2020, 17:46

    Some of the “disadvantages” claimed for light rail by its opponents are mischievous misinformation. They are alleging problems that they have concocted in their own minds to bolster their deliberately-misleading arguments. Thanks Mike Mellor and John Rankin for refuting some of these manufactured nonsenses.
    Having said that, I have also noticed a tendency (though not in this thread) for light rail proponents to similarly misrepresent the option of extending existing rail, which many tend to oppose.

  27. Keith Flinders, 14. August 2020, 9:22

    Kerry: Like yourself I am an advocate for a mass transit system through the CBD and initially out to the eastern suburbs. At this point in time light rail technology appears the clear winner taking note also of the points you outline.

    There are some who see BRT (bus rapid transit) as being the saviour ignoring the lack of road space required to make it work as a rapid and high passenger volume service. It would be no different to the nose to tail bus convoys we see in peak hours today and which are slow moving, in some cases under supplied capacity wise in the pre COVID era. We all expect business activity will return to normal at some stage so must plan for it.

    My “one line fits all” comment I made looking to the future, not basing passenger use on the present. What we will see is a much more densely inhabited city especially in the eastern suburbs, Newtown, then Vogeltown/Island Bay. Meaning that if the Miramar passengers have to go via Newtown then obviously more light rail units will be required to share the tracks for Newtown and southern suburbs passengers who join at the hospital hub.

    The CBD to Miramar via Newtown route will require an expensive tunnel to be built through Mt. Albert. Would this money be better spent reinventing the CBD to Kilbirnie/Miramar via existing tram tunnel giving faster travel times for eastern suburbs passengers and fewer light rail units needed to run through Newtown fully loaded with eastern suburbs people at peak times ? Newtown traffic now is slow moving through its business section, so will be light rail unless the road becomes virtually car free.

    Eventually light rail must extend through to Vogeltown and Island Bay.

    What must be factored in now is planning for the much higher population density in the eastern suburbs which is starting now and will be well advanced in 20 years. How many of these new residents will need to use public transport as their homes will be unlikely to have off street parking and the CBD will have less parking than now.

    The planners of early last century had the attitude “build the tram systems and people will build around them ensuring patronage.” Then along came the private motor vehicles but are we to witness a reversal of this trend in the not too distant future?

    I see the CBD route better served by light rail along the Golden Mile where cars are excluded, service vehicles limited to set delivery off peak times as other cities dictate, and the rest of the road space given over to cyclists and pedestrians. Leave the Quays as they are for all other traffic.

  28. John Rankin, 14. August 2020, 14:50

    @Conor: I increasingly wonder if there isn’t a more deep-seated systemic problem than the analysis in this article considers.

    Why does central government get to come in and over-ride local government’s preferred transport options? National is doing it to LGWM, while in Auckland, National, Labour, New Zealand First and Green each have different policies for rapid transit, none of which quite matches what Auckland has actually said it wants. Maybe it’s time to rethink how urban transport programmes get funded in this country, with central government becoming a mode-neutral bulk-funder. Let local and regional governments make the decisions about how the money gets allocated, and let local voters turf them out if things go sideways.

    This would give programmes like LGWM long term certainty. Us voters in local elections could be confident that if we elect candidates with a particular set of transport policies, a change at central government can’t come in and upset the apple cart. Because central government holds the purse strings, it can influence the pace of local change, but not the direction. It also sets certain national policies, like the Zero Carbon Act. The direction and implementation priorities would be firmly under control of local bodies, answerable to their electors.

    At the moment I am left wondering what is the point of engaging in LGWM’s in-depth consultation processes, if a new central government can choose to ignore everything that happened before the last general election.

  29. A J Corlett, 14. August 2020, 17:46

    From a person closely involved in urban planning in Auckland came this statistic: Light Rail requires population clusters of 20,000+ around EACH station/stop to be usage and cost effective. Population clusters of 15,000 or less per stop are levels at which it starts to become inefficient and expensive.

  30. Kerry, 17. August 2020, 10:07

    AJ. Your figure seems wildly overstated. There is a Transport for London cost-curve showing that light rail breaks even with buses at about 3200 passengers an hour and is substantially cheaper at 4000 pass/hr.
    Construction costs are higher than for buses, but operating costs lower. Maintenance costs are about the same as for buses, on a passenger numbers basis (fewer vehicles and no diesel engines).
    Operating costs are substantially lower because about 70% of bus costs is drivers wages, and a tram can carry a lot more passengers than a bus.

  31. GrahamCA, 17. August 2020, 15:00

    Kerry those comparisons you quote refer to diesel buses. However with Wellington moving slowly to an electric fleet (not trolley buses which require expensive infrastructure and constant maintenance, but self contained EVs) the maintenance and much of the operating costs (apart from drivers admittedly) is significantly lower.
    Plus the disruption caused during the construction phase would almost certainly result in the death of the CBD – very much in the same way that Christchurch’s CBD is now basically dead.

  32. Sean, 18. August 2020, 9:17

    GrahamCA. Battery buses (that are actually used all day) require new batteries roughly every 3 years, so their operating costs per bus are significantly higher than a decent sized trolley network. The purchase cost of the batteries in the buses recently announced by GW would have paid for renewing the trolley power supply and the ongoing costs of battery replacement will well exceed the cost of overhead line maintenance.

  33. Peter Steven, 18. August 2020, 9:56

    Battery electric is like the shitty libertarian cousin of the catenary electric.

  34. Keith Flinders, 18. August 2020, 15:23

    GrahamCA: I might agree with you re light rail track installation killing the CBD if the total over the top method used in Sydney was to be employed in Wellington. If you consider the speed and earthquake durability of the track installation used in Christchurch, not too dissimilar to that in Melbourne which can be seen here , the disruption is not of a long duration. There are similar videos on this topic and what they illustrate is the capacity of the civil engineering contractors in that city to be fully organised to carry out major works with minimum disruption. Alas no civil contractors in this country are so adept or capable. Nearly 2 years to build 300 metres of a combined pedestrian/cycle way and 100 metres of sea wall at Pt. Jerningham being a prime example of how slow favoured contractors are.

    Just as it is not viable to keep adding more roads in Wellington, it will not be possible to bus the way out of the growing capacity issue along the Golden Mile, even with all car parking removed. Mass transit of some form will be required in the next decade.

  35. Keith Flinders, 18. August 2020, 18:34

    Sean: A 70 passenger (seated and standing) battery bus will have around 250 kw hours of battery capacity installed, and at current lithium iron price a battery swap out will cost in the order of NZ$70,000 each time. There will be some residual value in the old batteries, not a great deal though. How many years these batteries will last in public transport applications is dependant on how many recharges they need over their life span. Six years ago it was estimated some 3 to 4 years would be the life cycle, however improvements in battery technology and charging methods made since may have extended this.

    In 2010 when I first became interested in this topic a lithium iron battery pack would have cost NZ$700,000 for the same bus. As Peter infers, the modern trolley bus even with its overhead support structure maintenance is more economic in the longer term. Ask the transport operators in San Francisco, Seattle and numerous European countries.