Wellington trolley buses in peril
5 May 2006
Mexican standoff puts Wellington trolley buses in peril
Land Transport New Zealand's stubborn refusal to fund Wellington's trolley buses on the same basis that it funds all other public transport is putting the entire trolley bus fleet at risk, Green Party transport spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.
"LTNZ is insisting that it will fund trolley buses only if they are treated as though they are diesel buses. By doing so, LTNZ is stalling major plans to refurbish the capital's ageing trolley bus system," Ms. Kedgley says.
"A Mexican stand-off between all the main players has been created by LTNZ's bizarre funding decision.
"Stagecoach, which owns the buses and Vector, which owns a key part of the electrical network, cannot conclude negotiations about their plans to modernise the trolley buses and their entire overhead and terminals electrical system without being certain about the capital's commitment to its trolley bus fleet. In turn, Wellington Regional Council needs certainty on just how the shortfall created by LTNZ's funding decision will be made up.
If LTNZ remains intransigent, the regional council will have little option but to roll over the current contract and then go cap in hand to the people of Wellington to make up the shortfall, Ms Kedgley says.
"On the most recent projections, that shortfall will require ratepayers in the Wellington region to stump up with at least another $1.5 million to keep the trolleys on the road.
"I am astonished things have got to this point. Obviously, a trolley bus is a trolley bus and a diesel bus is a diesel. They have different fuel and operational costs, and with trolleys, a need to fund the maintenance of the electrical system.
"Making one type of bus arbitrarily fit the funding profile of the other is absurd. Especially when, in this case, LTNZ's guiding principles include a commitment to the environment," Ms Kedgley says.
" The Transport Minister should now convene a meeting between all the parties, and tell LTNZ to pay its half of the actual transport system - trolleys and all - and not just its diesel equivalent.
"Wellington's transport system is the envy of other cities in New Zealand. It is now up to central government to ensure that the most environmentally friendly element of that system is protected."