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Mayor Celia – and counting our blessings

  • June 20th, 2013

The Wellington Mayor’s public acceptance that light rail is dead for Wellington is a step forward. So much better than Len Brown’s dogged pursuit of the underground train set, when faced with similar damning economics.
If only she had been able to confine her Plan B to stipulating for noise, energy efficiency and other parameters for buses. Instead she is painting herself into the electric corner. Why tell a businesses how to achieve objectives when you are not an expert, and the implementation is so far out we cannot know which is the best.
We are already bearing the costs of foolish affection for trolley buses, in wasted capital costs ($7m more than for better, flexible, comfortable, efficient new diesels) maintenance, and downtime on the streets.
Still, I think we are likely to see a brief era of comparative rationality here on transport, because the current generation of clerics in our council have had some education about the uncomfortable gap between wishful rhetoric, and reality, in transport economics.


You’re right about our “foolish affection for trolley buses”.

Wellington’s 60 trolley buses cover 1.6 million kilometres a year, consuming 4 GWh of electricity (about as much electricity as would be used by 500 average households).

Diesel buses doing the same distance would use 600,000 litres of diesel a year, which would result in 1,620 tonnes of CO2 emissions (or 32,000 tonnes of CO2 over the 20 year life of the buses). Great to save 1,620 tonnes of CO2, but the trolleys cost about $5 million pa MORE to operate than diesels, and buying emission rights for 1,620 tonnes of CO2 would cost about $2,000 at current prices.

The WCC has locked in a deal to save $2,000 at a cost of $5,000,000 a year for 20 years.

  • Robert M
  • June 22nd, 2013
  • 2:41 pm

Modern trolley buses would offer infinitely better hill climbing to Brooklyn and Karori. The current Wellington Trolleys-rebodied early 80s one’s seem far too large for Wellingtons narrow streets and seem in part to be tram line with 2+1 seating and large standing areas to swallow about 90 passengers and I would imagine are still packed coming out of Newtown in the morning.
I am very much a tram and trolley fan- and greatly admired the magnificent Dunedin Trolleys which ran for about 30 years from 1952 to 1982. Dunedin and Auckland are probably hillier than much of the Wellington system it was a shock to find you have to be a mountain got in much of Auckland.
My own view is that it would have been better if the tram routes to Lyall Bay and Seautoun had been maintained and relaid- via the Haitati trolley tunnel. It would have been easy enough to put a tram tunnel under the airport in 1959 and a pedestrian tunnel was certainly put where the tram route was, thru the airport.
In terms of cost I think that patronage droped by about 50% on many Wellington and Auckland routes following tram abandonment as it did on the Papanui – Cashmere route.


[…] Ward candidate Nicola Young agrees with ex-ACT MP and National Party candidate Stephen Franks on our “foolish affection for trolley […]

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