Wellington’s number two bus route quietly goes electric
Noisy diesel buses are a thing of the past on the number two bus route, the first in Wellington to be fully decarbonised following the arrival of the capital’s 55th electric bus.
Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter said the council’s public transport wing, Metlink, was now more than halfway to its goal of having 108 electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by December 2023.
“Metlink can be confident of reaching the target, making 22 percent of its buses electric by the end of next year,” Ponter said. “That’s one in every five.”
“When all 108 are in service, they’ll reduce Greater Wellington’s carbon emissions by 17 percent; a massive step towards council being carbon neutral by 2030.”
Transport Committee chair Roger Blakeley said having more than 50 EVs strengthened Metlink’s status as an international leader in electric public transport.
“With electric trains, an electric harbour ferry and electric buses, we are driving the region towards a 40 percent increase in public and active transport modes by 2030,” Blakeley said.
“Greater Wellington is setting the example for other local authorities by rising to meet the climate emergency.”
Commitments by bus service operators NZ Bus and Tranzurban (part of the Tranzit Group) established the 108 EV goal. NZ Bus has 37 on the road with another 30 on order while Tranzurban has 18 in service and 23 on the way.
Metlink infrastructure and assets manager Fiona Abbott said the EV fleet would grow beyond the target, with operators Mana and Uzabus also planning to acquire EVs.
“Between them at least three more are in the pipeline. Mana is also committed to running 10 EVs on the new airport express bus service.”
To power its EVs, NZ Bus charges overnight using off-peak electricity. From 10pm, its single-deck buses are connected to a Smart Charging System at the operator’s Kilbirnie depot and by 4am, they are ready for a full day of service.
Tranzurban also charges overnight at its Grenada and Rongotai depots but can fast-charge its electric double-decker buses during the day. The country’s first fast charger in Island Bay will soon be joined by another at the Lambton interchange that can top-up the EV batteries from 20 to 100 percent in about 12 minutes.
The new generation of Tranzurban’s Tauranga built double-deckers weigh less and have better range, Abbott observed.
“Their battery capacity has increased by nearly 20 percent and they’re about 10 percent lighter than earlier models. They can run between four and six hours or up to 130-kilometres.
“In contrast, the single-decks can run all day on a single charge. The NZ Bus smart charger will be able to power 14 more EVs expected by the middle of the year as well as further additions to the fleet.”