Articulated bus to be trialled on Wellington’s busiest route.  

Sustainability & Technology

Metlink is preparing to trial an articulated bus on the number 2 bus route, which runs between Karori, Miramar and Seatoun.  

Greater Wellington councillors were briefed by Metlink this week on this preferred option, one of five analysed to increase capacity on Wellington’s busiest bus route - carrying around 9,600 passengers on a typical workday.   

Transport Chair Thomas Nash says the demand for public transport in Wellington continues to grow, and finding both effective and efficient ways to meet it is essential.  

“In the last 12 months we’ve had 3 million trips on the number 2 route and in 10 years, we’re forecast to have twice that number. We can’t keep adding buses to increase frequency as this will cause a logjam of buses queuing up behind each other.

“On a route where double deckers can’t fit through existing road tunnels, articulated buses would be a game-changer”. Cr Nash says. 

Articulated buses can significantly increase capacity. They take 70% more passengers than a single decker bus while being only 41% longer [18m as opposed to 12.8m).  

The extra length only slightly impacts cornering, with its turning circle just 1m longer than that of standard bus (24m as opposed to 23m).  

To further study its feasibility, an articulated bus normally used by Auckland Transport on school routes, will be trialled on route 2 in the September school holidays.  

If the passenger-less trial is successful, Metlink Group Manager Samantha Gain says operators, unions, cycling networks and the accessibility community will be consulted before articulated buses are introduced. 

“Reconfigurations on the route will also be necessary to create sufficient space for articulated buses to pick up passengers and safely share the road with pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.  

“Route 2 bus stops will need to be lengthened before articulated buses can be brought into permanent service”, added Ms Gain. 

These necessary changes to the route’s bus stops are being proposed under Wellington City Council’s Transport Projects(external link), with changes in Karori due for consultation in September. 

Upcoming kerb realignments to improve boarding for route 2 passengers with accessibility needs will also be good for articulated buses. 

Options discounted to increase route 2 capacity are modifying the Karori and Seatoun tunnels to fit double deckers, redirecting buses around the tunnels, increasing route 2 frequency, and introducing a fleet of modified double deckers to fit the tunnels.  

Metlink worked closely with Wellington City Council on a business case and feasibility assessment for the buses and hopes to bring articulated buses into service on the route 2 by 2026.