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Funding deal to save trolley buses

Funding deal to save trolley buses

More comfortable, reliable and larger buses to come

“Greater Wellington has reached a deal that could save the trolley buses,” announced Greater Wellington Regional Council Chairman Ian Buchanan today. “Together with Land Transport New Zealand we’ve reached agreement with Stagecoach on a proposed funding package that would see the trolley buses refurbished, overhead lines upgraded, and this unique service continue.”

Ian Buchanan said the only hurdle left was to ensure the Commerce Commission is comfortable that the deal does not breach the Commerce Act.

“The Commerce Commission has signalled they plan to investigate the contract with Stagecoach, who is the sole supplier of trolley buses on these routes. We hope any issues the Commerce Commission have will be resolved quickly.”

Mr Buchanan said the proposed deal came after intense negotiations between Greater Wellington and Land Transport New Zealand with Stagecoach over levels of funding for the upgrade and running of the ageing fleet of sixty buses.

“Greater Wellington has already increased its funding for trolley buses in our long term plan. What we needed was Land Transport New Zealand to agree to funding 50% of the actual cost of operating the trolleys and overhead upgrades, and Stagecoach to agree to fund the capital cost of refurbishing the buses. We now have agreement to all these terms.”

Ian Buchanan said that the proposed deal had been approved in principle by the Board of Land Transport New Zealand. “The Board of Stagecoach’s owner Infratil and the Greater Wellington Regional Council now have to give approval to the proposed deal. I’ve am very hopeful that both will sign off the deal, subject to Commerce Commission approval.”

Mr Buchanan said that if the proposed deal was approved by all parties, the sixty buses would be refurbished and the overhead lines gradually upgraded.

“The refurbished buses will be larger, much more comfortable for commuters, and much more reliable. The buses will have low floor and wheelchair access, more comfortable seating and improved electrical systems meaning fewer delays. The other benefits of keeping trolley buses include no increase to diesel emissions on our main streets, and quieter running. Overseas experience also shows that replacing trolley buses with diesels results in a drop in patronage.”

Mr Buchanan noted that with the trolley bus funding resolved Greater Wellington now has substantive agreement on most major public transport projects including long term contracts for rail and bus services, and the replacement or refurbishment of the region’s passenger rail rolling stock.

“This deal is another step forward in the redevelopment of Wellington’s public transport system. We’re now making real progress, and commuters can look forward to the arrival of much improved buses and trains over the next few years,” said Mr Buchanan.

Mr Buchanan said the planned improvements to the trolley buses included:

More seats and greater capacity. The refurbished buses will have 51 seats (40 in the existing buses) running on three axles (currently two). This means greater capacity on key routes.
More comfortable. The refurbished buses have new interiors and a modern shape. The new interiors will be more comfortable with modern seating, heating and handholds.
More accessible. The refurbished buses will be low floor and wheelchair accessible.
More reliable. Redesigned electrical poles will mean an estimated 50% reduction in ‘dewiring’ incidents. In the event of dewiring a new automatic retriever system will speed up the process of replacing the poles on the wires, and make the process safer for the driver.

The new poles and retrieval system will reduce damage to the overhead wires, reducing maintenance.

Completely redesigned and more accessible power systems on the buses will mean lower overall maintenance costs, and fewer breakdowns.
Auxiliary power. The new buses will have a diesel auxiliary power system that means in the event of a network power failure the buses can keep running at low speed. This will enable the buses to reduce congestion problems, and move commuters closer to their destination.


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