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Foreign Ownership Neglect at Heart of Trolley Bus Axing

Denis O’Rourke MP

Spokesperson for Transport
2 JULY 2014

Foreign Ownership Neglect at Heart of Decision to Axe Trolley Buses

Wellington ratepayers are paying the price for neglectful foreign ownership of the electricity company that powers the city’s trolley buses, says New Zealand First.

“The decision by the Wellington Regional Council to scrap the trolley buses in 2017 is a backward step for the capital’s public transport system,” says Transport Spokesperson Denis O’Rourke.

“The foreign owner of Wellington Electricity, Cheung Kong Infrastructure Ltd (CKI) and Power Assets Holding limited (Power Assets), listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, has failed to upgrade infrastructure. As a result the council has decided to scrap the buses.

“Trolley buses that have served Wellington well for decades, and are the envy of other New Zealand cities, will be scraped because a foreign owner is using New Zealand for monetary gain and is not being a good corporate citizen.

“This Chinese company has no interest in investing in the future of the city’s transport system, it’s here to buy and sell, make money and take it back overseas,” says Mr O’Rourke.

“As New Zealand First has always pointed out there is a vast difference between foreign investment serving New Zealand’s interests and a transfer of wealth.

“The council also needs to examine the $52 million quoted to upgrade the overhead power supply – it is an utterly unreliable and highly exaggerated figure.

“Wellington and New Zealand as a whole should be expanding fully electric public transport systems such as this.

“The intention to replace the trolley buses with hybrid vehicles initially and then to phase in battery powered buses, relies on the unproved suitability and reliability of these new vehicles.

“It is risky and unnecessary when the overhead-powered system already in place is well proven and efficient.

“The overhead lines are owned by the Wellington City Council-owned company Wellington Cable Car and have never been in a better state.

“In 2007 NZ Bus invested about $40 million rebuilding the trolley bus fleet and there have been ongoing improvements. The reliability of the trolleys has improved to about 95 per cent.

“To waste all of this in favour of a new fleet of hybrid buses or battery-powered vehicles of unknown cost and unproven suitability and reliability is utterly crazy.

“This is a decision which shows the folly of having a regional council in charge of public transport planning and tendering while leaving the City Council holding the infrastructure and the costs associated with it.

“The delivery of public transport in New Zealand needs to be urgently reviewed, and this silly decision needs to be reversed,” says Mr O’Rourke.


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