Choose Clean Buses

Exciting news - electric hybrid buses will be available in New Zealand by the end of this year!

NZ Bus, who own the Wellington trolley buses, have just signed a $43 million deal to convert "a significant number" of its Auckland and Wellington buses to electric battery hybrid motors. [1]

The Wellington trolley buses will be the first to receive this upgrade, with the retrofit to begin later this year. 

However - there is no guarantee that these buses will end up in Wellington. "Where these buses end up, that will be a matter for discussion with the local authorities. They really have to decide whether they want to move away from the dirty diesels." said NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames.

NZ Bus has put in a tender for Wellington bus contracts, but the Regional Council needs to accept their tender for these buses to stay in Wellington. We've shown the Council that Wellingtonians don't want diesel buses- and this is the perfect chance for the Council to do just that. 

We need to keep up the pressure to make sure the Council takes advantage of this amazing opportunity for clean transport! 

Email the Wellington Regional Council now using the form on the right.

NZ Bus have shown the necessary leadership by investing in battery buses. "I don't think I will ever buy another diesel bus," says their CEO Mr Fulljames. They are showing that battery electric buses are not just the way of the future but the way of the present.

The buses will be refitted with electric drivetrains from American firm Wrightspeed. These motors can be retrofitted onto existing buses and operate mostly on rechargeable electric batteries, topped up with a small fuel-powered motor if need be, the latter of which will become unnecessary as battery technology improves. [1]


[1] [2] Wellington buses the first to go electric 



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Your email will go to the following Greater Wellington Regional Councillors: Nigel Wilson, Jenny Brash, Barbara Donaldson, Judith Aitken, Chris Laidlaw, Sandra Greig, Ken Laban, Prue Lamason, Paul Swain, Gary McPhee

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  • Ian Shearer
    commented 2016-05-06 04:08:33 +1200
    Congratulations to the Tramways Union for the wonderful advert (DomPost 4th May) on the need for clean buses, and congratulations to NZ Bus CEO Zane Fulljames for the further information in his opinion piece (DomPost 5th May). The transition to cleaner bus technology could indeed be happening. So congratulations also to Generation Zero for leading the charge and seeing the potential before the rest of us. It is clear the ball still lies with GWRC to ensure the full potential benefits from this move are realised.

    The tenders for the North-South bus route (Churton Park to Island Bay) have just become very exciting and competitive pressure will hopefully reduce costs. NZ Bus could be offering high peak-hour capacity converted trolley buses running mostly on batteries using clean-green mains electricity, backed up by an on-board battery charger using landfill gas. The other company could be offering big new high capacity, but slow loading, double deckers that run on dirty diesel. The potential climate change mitigation benefits are obvious to us all, and as a cyclist riding behind the buses, and a pedestrian on our city streets, I know which option I want. If we can not have all-electric yet, then we want it to be mostly electric.

    The challenge now is “will the GWRC tender documents value the environmental benefits, and also facilitate fast uptake of all-electric battery buses for the ‘feeder services’ into these higher capacity spine services?” GWRC councillors are likely to approve the new bus tender documents at their meeting on 29 June. The bus services will be provided by private companies, so we (the public who pay all the hidden costs) are now reliant on Councillors grabbing the nettle and ensuring that the specifications are tight enough that we get the potential environmental and cost benefits. While the Government, through their agent NZTA does not value these environmental advantages, I believe that Wellingtonians do. There must be rewards built into the contract that allow us to capture these benefits. I call on GWRC to refuse to approve the release of the tender documents if these values are not included.

    The “better conditions for drivers and staff” included in the Tramways Union advert is another aspect that should be considered by GWRC. The pay and conditions for TransMetro staff were protected by GWRC in the tenders for the new train operator, but it does not appear that bus drivers are being protected in the new bus tenders. Come on GWRC you can do this – make sure it is a win-win all around.
  • Ian Shearer
    commented 2016-04-27 09:17:43 +1200
    Thank you for responses Simon and Brian. I want to make it clear that (as far as I know) the decision to introduce the hybrids is not the ‘fault’ of NZBus. It was the bad strategic decision by Greater Wellington Regional Council to kill off the trolley buses that left NZBus with about 60 trolley buses, with more than 10 years life in them, with no value as they can not be used anywhere else in NZ. But of course GW councillors were also duped by the Government (represented by NZTA) mantra that “competition will lower prices”. Fran Wilde drove this move (she hated the trolleys) and she has been rewarded by government with a new position as Deputy Chair of NZTA.

    The new PTOM rules, imposed by NZTA on councils wanting government public transport subsidies, insists that most public transport services need to be tendered (search for PTOM on the NZTA website if you want to look further into this). Unfortunately, there is no competitor for the trolley bus services, and the contracts based on the historic “transfer” of the trolleys to NZBus (originally to Stagecoach) run out in 2017. There was a fear that GW would be ripped off in an extended contract – but GW/NZTA decided that they would not even put electric vehicles in the tender documents, or try to negotiate the future with NZBus.

    The lack of courage of the Wellington ‘ward’ councillors (except Paul Bruce and Sue Kedgley) to fight to keep the clean-electric trolleys has thrust us into this situation. Those existing councillors should not receive our votes in the upcoming local body elections.
  • Brian Francis
    commented 2016-04-26 22:55:34 +1200
    It’s ackkowledged that diesel buses are the culprits when it comes to dirty air, so why use trolleybuses for the initiative? Why not convert diesel buses? Trolleybuses are powered by over 80% renewable energy- a figure that could not be matched by a hybrid vehicie using existing technology. There is nothing to say that the trolleybuses will be replaced so is this a back-door method of anandoning them in favour of less clean methods of transport? If so , that an unacceptable shocker.The public should be told.
  • Simon Smiler
    commented 2016-04-26 22:23:09 +1200
    Converting the diesel buses to (battery) electric is a fantastic idea because (if it works) the reduction in air pollution will reduce instances of the types of respiratory illness which lower people’s quality of life and sometimes causes premature death.

    However I am baffled because NZ Bus is rushing ahead and only converting Wellington’s pure electric buses to the new technology. Surely if the desire is to reduce urban air pollution and validate the technology on real-world urban bus services the first buses to be converted should primarily include those which are diesel powered?

    After all, the trolleybuses are already known to be clean electric vehicles that do not emit any tailpipe air pollution – so converting only them first will provide zero air pollution benefits* and not prove that the technology will actually work on buses that do not already have electric motors.

    In fact converting pure electric buses that are powered directly from a national grid where almost 82% of the power comes from renewable energy sources to fossil-fuel hybrid battery operation can only *increase air pollution in the street environment.

    Uniquely amongst New Zealand cities Wellington is blessed with a well established fully functioning overhead wire power supply system that was specially installed for zero emission pure electric buses. If any converted bus that is destined to be used in Wellington was to be fitted with trolleypoles they could recharge their batteries from the overhead wires. This way they would not even need onboard fossil charging facilities! In Europe some cities are even buying new battery electric buses with the intent to use them in this way as they can then replace diesel buses without installing any new overhead wires.
  • Ian Shearer
    commented 2016-04-26 19:22:45 +1200
    I am sorry GZ – this letter does not go far enough, and I suggest it be changed before too many people have signed it. The NZBus proposal will dramatically increase GHG emissions in Wellington City. The proposal does not “save” the trolley buses – the trolley bus wires, and the poles on the buses, will be removed from service. NZBus are proposing to add an on-board diesel or gas fired turbine-generator to charge the on-board batteries so that the buses can run all day without stopping to be recharged. They have not described what percentage of of energy for the buses will be diesel or gas, and what percentage will be electricity will be from NZ’s “clean, 80%-green, renewable electricity” supply system.

    I suggest this letter applaud the proposed technology changes BUT should insist that this technology should be used to convert the existing diesel buses, and better still should demand that the converted buses burn natural gas (reduced emissions and better than diesel for health benefits) or even better, burn landfill gas or biogas.

    We must continue to fight to keep our clean 80%-green trolley buses. GZ has made a huge strategic error in scrapping the trolley buses before a strategy to go “all-electric” has been implemented. Going backwards by converting the trolleys to fossil fuel junkies is not the right starting position.
    regards Ian Shearer