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Costs and benefits of options for Wellington’s bus fleet

Costs and benefits of options for Wellington’s future bus fleet


An analysis of the options for renewing Wellington’s ageing bus fleet shows that diesel, recharging electric or hybrid buses would be the most cost-effective, environmentally-friendly and efficient.

The results of the study, carried out by PwC for Greater Wellington Regional Council, have been released today as part of the public consultation under way on the Council’s draft Regional Public Transport Plan. The draft plan is the Council’s blueprint for delivering the best public transport services for the region.

Paul Swain, the Regional Council’s Public Transport Portfolio Leader, says the report is a useful guide both for the Council as it approaches decisions about the future Wellington City bus network and for people wanting to get more information about the options.

“The future Bus Rapid Transit spine through central Wellington and the new Wellington City bus network that will support the spine will need vehicles that can reliably deliver high-quality, high-frequency services. The expiry of the trolley bus contract in 2017, and the fact that many diesel buses in the fleet are due to be replaced within the next five years, has enabled us to begin planning for the staged renewal of the Wellington bus fleet.”

The report analyses a number of options for a future fleet – ranging from new-generation diesel through to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – and compares the benefits and costs of each to a baseline option that retains the current diesel / trolley bus mix. It has found the most sustainable and efficient options are:
lowest-emission diesel
electric buses which would recharge at en-route stopping points throughout the day; or
hybrid buses which use an electric engine in conjunction with a diesel-based combustion engine. The diesel engine is used to charge an internal battery pack which drives the motor.
“The report finds that any of these three options would cost ratepayers less than retaining the current diesel / trolley bus mix, while increasing environmental and efficiency benefits.”

Paul Swain says the analysis is a valuable contribution to the debate about the future of the trolley buses. “The report outlines the pros of trolley buses such as low emissions and very little noise, and the cons such as the estimated $52m cost of upgrading the trolley bus infrastructure and the relative inflexibility of the trolley buses.

“The report also considers the costs and benefits of each option in light of our goals for public transport. We need a flexible, fast and efficient public transport network that delivers more environmental benefits overall, is affordable and takes people where they want to go.

“We haven’t made any decisions yet and the current public consultation is an important element of the process. We’re really keen to know what people in the region want us to take into account when choosing a new bus fleet. We’d also value feedback on a range of other aspects of the region’s public transport network and services including rail services and fares and ticketing.”

The bus fleet options report, and details of the consultation, are at www.gw.govt.nz/ptplan

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