The government want to increase the currently dismal uptake of electric vehicles, increasing the numbers on our roads from about 1,200 to 64,000 in just 5 years. To do that yesterday they announced a package to encourage more people to buy an electric car. Most of the initiatives, such as extending the Road User Charges exemption on light vehicles and introducing an exception for heavy vehicles, are probably fine but one of the initiatives is completely nuts – letting electric vehicles us bus lanes and busways.

Northern Busway

Enabling electric vehicles to access bus and high occupancy vehicle lanes

Access by electric vehicles to bus and high occupancy vehicle lanes (lanes where a vehicle must have more than a certain number of occupants) will be of value to households and businesses. Access to such lanes will mean electric vehicles will be able to travel more quickly than vehicles otherwise held up in traffic.

At the same time, the changes will also empower road controlling authorities to allow electric vehicles into special vehicle lanes (such as bus lanes) on their local roading networks.

The Government will make changes to the Land Transport Act and Rules to allow electric vehicles to drive in bus and high occupancy vehicle lanes on the State Highway network, which it controls. One example is the Northern Busway in Auckland.

This is madness. The whole point of busways, bus lanes and to a lesser extend transit lanes is to make buses, which are much more spatially efficient, more viable and work better. They can make buses:

  • faster, making them more attractive to use and can also make them time competitive with driving.
  • more efficient, because buses are faster they can run more services can be run for the same cost or alternatively fewer vehicles and drivers may be needed
  • more convenient as if they allow more services to be run it means higher frequencies so less time waiting at bus stops.
  • more reliable as they’re more likely to arrive at stops and the final destination on time.

The introduction of bus lanes meant that far more people have been able to be moved along many key corridors than they would have otherwise. For example, the Northern Busway carries about 40% of all traffic crossing the Harbour Bridge during the morning peak – five lanes of traffic and 40% of the people are in fewer than 200 vehicles. On other corridors like Dominion Rd more than 50% of people are on the bus yet in both situations the lanes can look empty. But a bus lane that looks empty normally means it’s actually doing its job and allowing buses to flow, uninterrupted by congestion.

Adding electric vehicles to this, which will mostly be carrying only a single occupant, will undo some of the benefits and make buses less efficient. That’s because there’s a greater chance that buses will be held up or miss lights etc. It means a double decker carrying 100 people have the same level of priority as a single person in an electric car. And this isn’t just theoretical, back in 2010 the old Auckland City Council trialled changing the then Tamaki Dr bus lanes to T2. As the results of that showed, it actually had the effect of slowing other road users, especially the general traffic. One of the reasons for this is the T2/3 drivers would push back in to the general traffic queue to get around buses at bus stops..




I believe the same situation would apply to electric vehicles allowed in bus lanes.

At this point its worth noting that when the Northern Busway was first designed and approved it was it was done so with the idea that high occupancy vehicles (HOV) could potentially also be allowed to use it. This was because at the time they were worried not enough people would catch a bus and is why for example that there’s a blocked off access at the Constellation Station. Of course as we know not a single HOV has used the busway because it’s performed above expectations.

There are other reasons this is a bad idea too. This includes:

  • Bus lanes are also often considered cycle lanes too. Allowing electric vehicles into those lanes could increase the risk for people on bikes. We also know from the recent Grafton Bridge trial (that has now ended) that many drivers simply don’t follow the rules. This would be no different with electric cars.
  • Getting single occupant vehicles back out of bus lanes in the future will be difficult. It’s also worth noting that other parts of the announcement had sunset clauses on them of either time or a once a percentage vehicles went electric. There was nothing mentioned for access to bus lanes.
  • Enforcement will be much harder as it is difficult to tell which vehicles are electric and which ones aren’t. In addition, many drivers seem to exhibit a bit of a herd mentality and if they see a couple of drivers getting an advantage they’ll start to copy. This would exacerbate the issues of cars in bus lanes.
  • Currently electric vehicles are more expensive than their fossil fuelled counterparts and the biggest buyers of them seem to businesses for fleet cars. It means the benefit of driving in bus lanes will likely be exclusive to a small(ish) group of early adopters.

Perhaps to help address this issue, Auckland Transport now more than ever need to fast-track the conversion of key bus routes to Light Rail. Perhaps they should also consider building it where they can with a grassed track.

Light Rail grassed track

In seriousness, a key reason for looking at light rail on the isthmus is about trying to relieve bus congestion on some corridors. Allowing electric vehicles to this mix will likely only mean Light Rail will have to happen sooner.

Overall this is a terrible idea, unless of course you drive an electric car already or are planning on getting one. The busway is owned by the NZTA but most of the other bus lanes let’s hope that Auckland Transport are able to say no to his idea on local roads at least. If they can’t then the government have managed to neuter bus lanes and possibly set them back years.

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  1. Allowing electric vehicles in bus lanes is a great example of bad policy: the policy will work fine provided it doesn’t have its desired effect of increasing electric car ownership. But if the policy has its intended effect, then the proliferation of electric cars will clog the bus lanes and undermine the (even more energy efficient) buses.

    Classic example of the Government floundering about like a flounder trying to make it look like its doing something, but then doing something that is demonstrably bad.

    I’ve got nothing against electric cars, in fact I think they’ll be wonderful.

    But this policy is just stupid. So much so that I’d be surprised if any major urban road controlling authority decided to allow electric cars in bus lanes. That leaves the Northern Busway, which is perhaps the worst conceivable test case!

    1. Floundering like a flounder? Is that still a simile?

      This policy really is nonsense. Will it reduce emissions? No. Will it hand a benefit to the well-off at the expense of the not-so-well-off? Probably…for a while…until the bus lanes clog up with SOV electric cars. I am also pro EVs but primarily for those will little or no access to PT (like us!).
      Here’s a link to the National press release:

      It’s a masterclass in political-speak and obfuscation. “What we’ve come up with together is a strong package of measures that is ambitious and has real substance,” Mr Bridges says. What a deep disappointment, Mr Bridges.

        1. Yeah like Trump, I went to an ivy fence school,
          not for fools or tools or stools,
          nor vocal local yokels,
          who think they’re born to rule.
          A school for those who perspire with desire,
          Who aspire to be an alliterate alumni affiliate
          of the Glenbrook Primary, Waiuku College, and UoA triumvirate.

          Poetic. Nipple. Antenna. Broadcast. Terminated.

        2. Half a policy, philosophically, must ipso facto half not be. But half the EV policy has got to be, vis-à-vis its entity – d’you see? But can an EV policy be said to be or not to be an entire EV/PT policy when half the PT is not PT, due to some deficient ministry?

          (not entirely MFD)

        3. That wins a prize for the most erudite comment. Well done to you sir! Let me explain further …

          You combine English and Latin,
          To create a sophisticated linguistic pattern.
          Rhetorical questions frame your logical structure,
          And give your policy analysis a notable lustre.

          Turning my mind to the (rhetorical) question at hand,
          How should we assess the Government’s policy stand?
          My take on the matter, for what it’s worth,
          Is that electric cars should not encroach on buses’ turf.

          This policy has the smell of a half-baked space cookie,
          Which may have originated with a stoned transport rookie.
          Electric cars are, to be sure, a technological boon,
          Although one must be careful not to over swoon.

          My hunch is Minister Bridges’ will retract this proposal,
          In favour of better policy initiatives that are at our disposal.

        4. Jumping Jennifer’s junipers, Mr Donovan! You throw down a stiff challenge indeed. I am going to have to throw down a few more Panheads and formulate a fitting riposte!

    2. this joke policy reads like the first dump from the whiteboard in a brainstorming session before any SWAT analysis and it fails on so many levels
      • bus lanes: it shows that the Government (and by extension the MoT although they may be under pressure here) does not understand that bus lanes are for moving PEOPLE not vehicles and that adding SOEVs into the mix, that role will be degraded particularly on the isthmus arterial routes like Dominion, Mt Eden and Sandringham Roads
      • principle aside, having been a Northern Express driver, I think that the Busway is less of an issue than the arterials and NZTA would be less able to withstand government pressure, nevertheless, the HOV facilities were largely built into the Busway stations and metering of EV access to maintain flow on the facility is a practical reality; in the funding case the number of HOVs was always limited to keep the Busway flowing
      • transport funding: exemption from RUC for EVs will diminish the amount of money going into the Land Transport Fund, particularly for the heavies which do the damage to the roads, although for heavy “exempt” seems to mean “reduced”
      most other measures seem reasonably sensible, but I wonder if there will be any public consultation on these issues or will it rule by dictat?

  2. “Review of tax depreciation rates and the method for calculating fringe benefit tax to ensure electric vehicles are not being unfairly disadvantaged”

    John Key said GST couldn’t be changed because it would set a precedent for all areas. This fringe benefit tax change should therefore set the precedent to not charge it on public transport, so public transport isn’t unfairly disadvantaged. Right?

    1. yes I thought that as well: Key argues that we can’t change GST because it’ll set a bad precedent, while on the other hand arguing that it’s OK to waive FBT and registration. Talk about talking out both sides of your mouth!

      A car is a fringe benefit. Doesn’t matter if it’s electric or guano-powered.

      1. It’d be good to see FBT looked at more widely when the IRD made some recommendations. There is definitely scope to use FBT as a tool to incentivize commuter behaviour by including it in some areas (like parking) and removing it on others (cycling, transit passes).

  3. Luckily, it appears AT will have the final say over buslanes on roads they own but the Northern busway, which clocked over 443,000 trips in April, will be in trouble.

    1. There is a key distinction between a ‘Bus Lane’ and ‘Buses Only’, a Buses Only is for Only Buses, but a Bus Lane is for Buses, Cyclists, Motorcyclists, etc i.e. people not holding up traffic.

      1. Aaron the Govt have specifically cited the Northern Busway in their release and said they will legislate to allow it. NZTA are under their direction so obligated to follow through on this policy. Fortunately for the rest of the city if not the Shore, AT are not.

        1. Would it be possible for AT to restrict their roads that are used to access the busway? IE Make them bus lanes under their control and then restrict access to them?

        2. That would be brilliant! Just paint an official AT/council controlled short bus lane at every entrance to the northern busway. So even if the government passes its daft legislation electric cars won’t be able to access the busway without breaking local by-laws.

        3. haha classic AT really should do that to stick it to Shon Keys government!
          The problem is going to be Constellation as cars will be able to turn off from Constellation into the busway (my understanding is that NZTA owns the intersections off motorways – could be wrong on that?). Who owns that actual bus stations? Because if it is AT then as you suggest they could simply ban cars from moving from the station onto the busway.

  4. This is madness. That clearly shows how out of touch the government is on transport. It’s enough to look at Norway to see what increases EV uptake.
    Making many miserable so a privileged few can enjoy the benefits is just insane.

    1. Look at Norway? You mean the country where electric cars don’t have to pay the annual road tax and where you can drive electric cars in bus lanes?

        1. And the reason they are now doing that is because the NEW CAR uptake of electric vehicles is currently 1,000 times higher than the rate of EV ownership in NZ. They used it to increase the uptake, and having done so are now removing it as an incentive.

          Not sure if the idea is sensible here when we are so badly off PT wise already, but it certainly wasn’t a bad plan on their part.

      1. The Norwegians are is true fiscal rationalists, unlike our government, despite their claims. They know that every drop of their (declining) oil resource they burn is a drop they can’t export for cash. Their’s is both a fiscally rational and an environmentally positive policy – for Norway. Not so much for the globe, but it certainly is for them.

        Other oil producers are much much stupider, especially the US, the Suadis, and the Gulf States, they make the huge mistake of believing their own PR and FF industry lobbyists, about the limitless supply and harmlessness of their main resource. Their behaviour would be like us drinking all our own milk rather than maximising the biggest share for export… The US is still a net importer despite recent peaks in production. Very foolish, the Norwegians are much more realistic….

  5. Its an excellent policy. The number of electric vehicles are low. The government is thinking outside the square to encourage uptake. When critical mass is achieved I suspect the rules will change back. Its nothing to be scared of, not sure why you are making such a fuss, thought it would be something you would welcome, less pollution, etc. Logistically I doubt they would physically access the Northern busway, but all other suburban road bus lanes is sensible.

    1. Hi Ricardo
      NZ also doesn’t have enough organ donors or O negative blood donors. We should also allow them to use buslanes.

      1. A Hybrid, aka nearly every taxi and many a private car is electric too when its petrol motor is off. And apart from some very subtle badging who can tell the difference with a Toyota Camry hybrid and a non hybrid? See the problems this will cause?

        1. Number plate recognition software will do it in an instant – might create a (bigger) black market for stolen/forged plates.

        2. I don’t think this policy includes hybrids as there are already many thousand of these on the road. I suspect it covers only pure electric cars like Leafs.

      2. As a person listed as a donor and as a person with O- blood who donates blood regularly I support this policy. Oh wait, I already use bus lanes. When I’m on the bus. -_-

    2. So it’s an excellent policy because no one will use it, and if people do use it you can change the policy back. Sweet logic.

    3. Ricardo, the northern busway was specifically mentioned as allowing EVs, as it is an NZTA asset. Given we are currently in a very efficient, but fragile situation on the north shore, where nearly 50% of people are being moved in 1/4 of the road space, undermining that would be ludicrous. In regards to your comment on pollution, this is a blog about efficient Transport, not environmentalism. It makes sense that when efficient transport is compromised in such an adverse way in favuor of environmentalism, the Transport Blog may not be in favour of it.

      I think we need to protest this policy, as it could be very damaging to hundreds of thousands of auckland travelers, undermining Aucklands PT reliant CBD, and therefore New Zealand’s economy. Does anyone have suggestions on what we can do? When’s it planned to come into affect?

      1. Any supposed environmental benefits are greenwashing at best. EVs might not burn petrol, but that benefit will be cancelled out by the negative effects of undermining public transport.

    4. IF the end goal was to increase the number of electric vehicles and the mere presence of electric vehicles was by itself a valuable enough outcome to outweigh the obvious disadvantages of this policy then it might be worth debating. However here is the big BUT: the end goal is not electric vehicles BUT the end goal is reduced greenhouse emmisions! The best way to achieve that is via efficient public transport. Even if we do start buying lots of EVs they will still need to be manufactured and then shipped here most likely releasing significant amounts of greenhouse emissions in the process.

    5. Logically your argument is the equivalent of ‘let’s pay people to use either cars because use is low’. Doesn’t make sense bro

  6. I wish the Govt would clearly explain what they are trying to achieve.

    Of course it is desirable to reduce carbon emissions. However, there is a glaring inconsistency in assisting a relatively small number of people into electric cars, while at the same time denying a far greater number of people in Auckland high capacity electric rail to the North Shore and to the south.

    1. Thus far all this governments attitude to carbon emmissions has been is to buy falsified carbon credits from dodgy sources to counter our emmission increases, so I really don’t think climate change is at the forefront of this decision.

    2. Well, they want to reduce carbon emissions as long as the private sector foots the bill.

      PT is publicly funded and therefore to be distrusted out of principle, while electric driverless vehicles are the future because they will be paid for by the public or businesses.

  7. I was totally gobsmacked when I heard this last night. Can we see their evidence supporting this proposal?

    1. That’s what Official Information Act requests are all about, I was thinking that this was a topic that may cause a few.

  8. I would like to have my next car be an electric car, but driving in bus lanes is not a reason that I would choose one. If I was driving an electric car I would probably stay out of the lanes as PT needs it more than me. It seems Simon Bridges has said on morning TV that access to Bus Lanes is the single most important measure internationally to encourage people to get electric cars, but from what I have seen/read I struggle to see this as a primary motivator (in most countries, restrictions on travel of fossil fuelled cars and large tax incentives for EV would appear to be the biggest drivers).

  9. This government has gone completely bonkers. What planet do these nitwits live on to allow cars (let’s face it, nobody will tell the difference between an electric vehicle and a normal vehicle) onto bus lanes, but especially the northern busway? It’ll just clog them all up and slow down the buses.

    1. I wondered that too: How will this be enforced? Electric vehicles look similar to normal cars. Do we expect cops to learn to recognise every make and model of EVs? Or does it rely on cameras taking photos of all license plates in the bus lane and then automatically checking registration details?

      This is one of those policies where the more you think about it the worse it gets.

      Here’s another problem: It’s encouraging driving at peak times. Let’s say you’re sitting at home and you have a normal car and an EV. It’s peak time, so normally you wouldn’t drive but instead you’d catch the bus. Now that you can drive EVs in bus lanes you might just jump in and add to peak traffic,

      I just don’t understand how this could possibly be considered good policy.

      1. Even without cameras presumably you will require a lot of other changes – new signs, traffic enforcement on the busway that wouldn’t be necessary today, driver education, potentially changes to traffic islands and access, etc. How much is this going to cost per new user? Would giving them helicopters be cheaper?

  10. The Northern Busway will also fill up with EV taxis. They (all taxis) have been wanting since inception to get access to the busway. They’ll be wetting themselves with glee at this announcement. The same taxis that fill T2 lanes even though they have a single passenger and the driver is part of the machine.

    1. The government are only classifying plug-in hybrids as electric vehicles. Most prius taxis are the older non plug models.
      Allowing electric vehicles in high occupancy lanes is possibly OK while their numbers are low, but like taxis on grafton bridge, as soon as the don‘t follow rules, look out for cyclists or hold up buses, they‘re gone

  11. This is, beyond a doubt, the stupidest policy announcement in the history of governments.

    It’s absurd. It takes a specific goal – reducing carbon emissions – identifies a particular technical solution – electric vehicles – and then goes stark, raving bonkers.

    I assume the Northcote Residents Assocation provided the policy analysis

    1. Can’t be the NRA behind this one – there’s no access to the Northern Busway from Onewa Rd.

  12. I’ll add this right here:
    – bicycles produce less carbon than electric vehicles
    – electric trains and electric trams produce less carbon than electric vehicles

    I’ll also add
    – there are no attractive electric cars. Even the Tesla models are butt ugly

    1. I’ve seen the Tesla Model S in the flesh. Apart from the front bumper, it’s a fine looking machine. On the other hand, the BMW i3 is the Elephant Man of the automotive world.

  13. I am very much a car supporter, but this policy is utterly crazy in the northern busway. If the cars were self driving, and there was a system to control how many were on there at a time (either a car only pricing mechanism or a lights system to get on if you are a car) then it might work.

    What will happen is anyone who can afford it will buy an electric car to get around the place more quickly, and then you’ll have one driver who decides that they want to drive at 50 km/h like many people try and drive at 80 km/h on the motorway proper and all the buses and all the cars get slowed down!

    Also agree about the cars moving out of bus lanes. My wife could theoretically drive in a T2 lane to work but doesn’t bother because it is too difficult to get back out of it again when it is going left and she wants to go straight ahead or there is a bus and it et cetera.

    Hopefully the government will very quickly realise this isn’t going to work.


  14. The government saying to all those people using the bus way and already doing their bit to reduce emmissions-“Screw you guys.”

    How long before a mix of buses and EVs waiting to merge southbound before the bridge see buses crawling from Akaranga? Once that happens might as well go back to the car.

  15. Of course Simon Bridges was the idiot who told us there is no housing crisis in Auckland last week. So its easy to see why Simple Simon doesn’t understand why we even have bus lanes, nor does he care. Internal combustion engines pollute more idling in traffic jams, electric motors don’t ironically but I’m guessing this genius doesn’t know that either. The weirdness and seeming lack of thought of the negative consequences of this announcement suggests someone/s or some organisation will financially be doing very nicely out of this.

    You are on the money with LRT, but there are some on this blog who I note seem to dislike the concept.

    1. National, the Northcote Residents Association, and NZ herald’s John Roughman have finally found the way to MAKE the busway into the WHITE ELEPHANT they claimed it was going to be!

  16. Sounds like an idea from the Communications guy. “Hey what we can we say that sounds like we are doing something without actually doing anything?”. “Oh how about ……”

  17. Low Carbon producing cycles to be allowed on motorways! Special 20 kmh lanes to be handed over for their use.

  18. I think it’s a stupid policy to allow EVs on bus lanes, but that wont stop me from taking full advantage of it. I was looking at buying an EV and now its pretty much decided. It will shave 5 min of my commute every day if I get to use the Northern Busway which I can then spend watching YouTube at home.

    For NZ, EV’s make a lot of sense economically. We have a glut of electricity production so it makes sense. Instead of sending my petrol money to Saudi Arabia, some of it goes to NZ power companies and the rest for me to spend where I want in the local economy. For the government I think it has very little to do with carbon emissions.

  19. That is the stupidest thing I have heard from an institution well practised in stupid things. Somebody stop this madness please. We need less cars, not more, and another electric does not necessarily mean that a fossil fuel driven car will be taken off the road. When will Simon Bridges be locked up, he is clearly barking mad!

  20. Some mandarin at the MoT in Wellington doing a little googling has probably spotted that Norway has the highest uptake of EVs globally. This has been achieved with a huge range of incentives including; zero VAT [gst], zero import tax [basically petrol cars are very expensive], exemption from road tolls, free parking in public spaces, free access to road ferries, AND access to bus lanes, initially only in Oslo. There is also a municipal roll out of charging infrastructure.

    Clearly the most effective of these are the VAT and duty removal, and the corresponding increases in tax on petrol and diesel vehicles, these even make Teslas relatively affordable:

    So no doubt a bunch of these recommendations go up the line and at some point everything gets crossed off as too expensive or unpopular with current car drivers and we’re left with one… one that doesn’t actually address car use at all.

    However a little more googling and they would have found out that Oslo has the most widespread and rich abundance of rail urban transit per capita in the world: A full metro, LRT, and Heavy Rail, [+ High Speed Airport line with 32% mode share] so therefore is much less reliant on buses to keep the city [pop 1.7m wider area] moving efficiently, especially in the inner city:

    “This includes the six-line Oslo Metro,[89] the world’s most extensive metro per resident, the six-line Oslo Tramway[90] and the eight-line Oslo Commuter Rail.[91] The tramway operates within the areas close to the city centre, while the metro, which runs underground through the city centre, operates to suburbs further away; this includes two lines that operate to Bærum, and the Ring Line which loops to areas north of the centre.[92] Oslo is also covered by a bus network consisting of 32 city lines, as well as regional buses to the neighboring county of Akershus.[93]”

    However buses still made up 45% of PT journeys in Oslo in 2012; But this is opposed to 100% in Chch, and 75% in Auckland.

    This highlights a glaring policy inconsistency for those in our governments and agencies that insist that buses are a sufficient urban Transit mode for our cities; if that is the case then they have to be treated seriously, they need near total priority in high demand areas and along important commuter routes. The suspicion that many claim to support buses when what they really mean is private vehicles is bourne out by road dominated budgets but also daft and unthinking policy like the one above.

    1. well said. In london they currently exempt EVs from the congestion charge and all developments which include car parking must also make provision for EV charging points in 20% of all spaces with a further 20% passive provision. This has been supplemented by public roll-out of on-street charge points and EV car hire, along with government grants and free parking in some places. All the research in the UK points to the high initial capital cost of EVs and lack of infrastructure (mainly charging points but especially rapid charging points) being the main barriers to EV uptake.

    2. “This highlights a glaring policy inconsistency for those in our governments and agencies that insist that buses are a sufficient urban Transit mode for our cities; if that is the case then they have to be treated seriously, they need near total priority in high demand areas and along important commuter routes. The suspicion that many claim to support buses when what they really mean is private vehicles is bourne out by road dominated budgets but also daft and unthinking policy like the one above”

      This is true. This sort of ridiculous policy undermines the case for bus based PT to be taken seriously, despite the fact it is the workhorse of our PT system and provides the greatest opportunity for quick wins and bang for buck in the short to medium (to long) term. Unthinking is the right word.

      But does any politician really take bus based PT seriously? I struggle to remember hearing any politician say anything at all along the lines that buses are an important and underutilised transport option. Neither at local or central government level.

      At the level of AT we need only look at how they treat buses (in terms of priority), with how they intend to treat LRT. It is a massive, unexplained inconsistency in that institution.

      1. That recent video by the southern NZTA chief is the level of it; polite urging without actually spending a dime or introducing policies to make it work. Meanwhile $900m on motorways, without so much as a bus lane or even HOV lane. This needs to change.

      2. The more I think about this the stronger the case comes for more regional autonomy in transport provision. Auckland is unlike the rest of the country, what may seem like a harmless policy in the provinces can often be a disaster in our only city of scale. It’s increasingly clear that Wellington based agencies are seriously out of touch with AKL. Not that they make great policy for Wellington or Christchurch either- really it’s cities that they don’t seem to get, but at least Auckland has an agency with sufficient scale and control of the transport field to deliver appropriately.

        1. I often think that too Patrick. Alternatively maybe we need a Minister/Ministry of Cities. Something that is inspiring and aspiration like this video

        2. I was wondering why you would contemplate this as a solution and all I could really come up with is that there had been little thought about the consequences of the action. Either those responsible didn’t think through the issue, or the consequences were of little value or impact to them or their objective.

          The key risk I see is that while it easy to implement, it will be difficult to role it back unless the sunset clause is included from the start.

          AT have shown with the Grafton Bridge taxi trial that is possible to stop trials, but you’d have to be convinced of the positive impact and BCR of the action before committing to it.

      3. Andrew Little catches a bus home every night. At least this little video shows him doing that

  21. Nota bene: as far as I can make out the MoT defines EVs thus:

    Electric vehicles are vehicles charged from an external electricity source.

    They can be powered in two ways:

    solely by electric batteries. These are commonly known as pure electric vehicles; or
    a combination of electric batteries and a petrol or diesel engine. These are commonly known as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

    Therefore this policy includes Plug-in Hybrids, PHEVs, so late model Prius, Outlanders, etc… both of which are externally indistinguishable from other versions of these vehicles. What could possibly be tricky about that? Note that the PM says it would be too tricky to exempt EVs from tax however….

    1. There is an idea floating round that EVs should have some sort of “Different Coloured” number plates, I think Blue has been mentioned as the background colour,

      I would not be suprised if this hair brained idea was used as the way to allow access to Busways/bus lanes..

      1. Sparking a huge trade in “stolen” EV number plates/or “EV stickers” to let ICE vehicles use the Bus lanes?

    2. Anything to stop someone modifying their car to PHEV, no matter how nominally? Eg put an ebike motor onto the crank shaft?

    3. If I start my car with it in gear it will leap forward at least couple of meters on the (electric) starter motor powered by a battery before it stalls. Does that mean I can count it as an EV under this definition?

  22. This is so insane it sounds like an April fool’s joke.

    Once the busway is also congested, they’ll use this as another argument for AWHC.

    1. “they’ll use this as another argument for AWHC”

      That was my initial cynical thought too, though this government seems hell bent on proceeding with AWHC no matter what.

      1. So I imagine a conversation like the following took place at some point.

        “We want to build a road as AWHC”
        “Yes that would be great but the northern busway completely undermines any business case for a road. Once the public really cotton on to this the desire for a rail crossing may be too difficult to overcome”
        “ok we need to sabotage the effectiveness of the busway somehow, but what can we do?”
        “I think I have a way we can kill two birds with one stone. We really need to look like we are doing something about climate change emissions, especially after that nasty business with the falsified carbon credits hit the news. Well one of the things these climate change advocates keep getting on at us about is increasing NZ’s uptake of EVs. So if we allow EVs access to the northern busway it will clog with vehicles and the public will start clamouring for more road lanes across the harbour!
        “I think you are on to something, I seriously doubt we will end up reducing our emissions, In fact they will probably go up with all the extra congestion we will cause from undermining public transport… but we will be seen as taking action which is all we need to keep people happy and we get to build another road!”

        1. “I think you’re on to something there, Sir Humphries”.
          “Yes Minister – “.

  23. “Of course as we know not a single HOV has used the busway because it’s performed above expectations.” Untrue. I actually saw a car driving on it like a month ago. I assume they were either really confused or just didn’t care.

    1. The security and maintenance contractors are allowed to drive on it between stations, you occasionally see one of those.

      1. I saw such a one yesterday afternoon as I drove south on the Motorway from Constellation drive. It had a bit AT logo on the side, so it was easy to know it was “legit”.

        But won’t be so easy for a regular EV or PHEV vehicle to know if its legit or not.

      2. I once (and only once) saw a private car drive on it through Sunnynook Station a couple of years ago, and I think it was a genuine mistake as it was going slowly as the occupants were all looking around bewildered. I think they took the wrong ramp at Constellation Dr and were desperately trying to find an exit.

    2. Nice story Nic,

      The truth is that it was Brownlee’s limo bypassing normal traffic control on its way to visit Key’s bach at Omaha. Apparently the limo had been dragged into service by AT so as to help meet March madness, which we all know is caused by National MPs riding PT endlessly about this fair city of ours.

    3. now and then a private vehicle will find its way onto the busway, mostly by mistake except for the very occasional carload of cap-backwards muppets; motorbikes are the more frequent offenders particlarly from Esmonde to avoid the tamp metering

  24. A better policy would be to implement market clearing road pricing and giving evs a discount.

    1. yes, yes it would.

      Or more generally: To set your road pricing charges so as to cover health costs of emissions from vehicles, with the charge for a particular vehicle linked to its emissions profile.

      That way you also encourage more efficient ICE. Which arguably would do more to improve NZ’s emissions from transport than waiting for the whole fleet to switcg to EVs.

      1. We already have that with fuel taxes – a cleaner ICE uses less fuel so pays less tax. My Honda Jazz uses 1/3 less fuel than my previous car, saving over $1,000 per year (for 130,000km in 8 years).

        1. yes that’s a good point, and insofar as fuel consumption is linked to emissions it’s a reasonable argument.

          However, my comment was made in the context of shifting to time of use road pricing, which I think is desirable for other reasons. If we were to bother to do that then I’d suggest we went to the step of linking time of use charges per kilometre to the emissions profiles of individual vehicles.

    2. Exactly. Let EVs use T2/T3 lanes for the time being sure but not bus lanes. The Government should be subsidising the price of EVs by $2000 as the net benefit to NZ by not needing to import that oil is positive.

      1. Actually the problem is much the same with T2 and T3 lanes other than they are already more compromised than bus lanes. There is a lack of consistency in their application across Aucklanf, they arent only in places with low bus volumes. Onewa Rd is a T3 lane despite it being one of the busiest bus corridors in Auckland. Sooner or later this will need to go to T4 or bus only to maintain its efficiency. But when that happens you will get a lot of pushback from people who have arranged their lives to use the T3 lane. EV owner pushback will only add to this.

  25. So this government has used a bit of green-wash PR to allow a few rich people who use hybrid taxis and expensive EV/hybrids to hold up 50 times that number of people using buses with no compensation for the fact they are abusing the commons (undermining the effectiveness of bus lanes).

    What a great government we have. Government of the few, by the few, for the few……

    1. Well put. I think this is really the crux of it for me. I love the idea of EVs, and I will definitely buy one, but not brand new. I agree that there should be measures to make them more attractive, but allowing them on bus lanes will only add to congestion and give wealthy more reasons to pull out the middle finger to everyone else. This is blatant abuse of power.

  26. I am favour of more electric vehicles on the roads to slowly phase out our petrol/diesel fleet and an favour of a temporary exemption on mileage licences.

    I am not in favour of allowing them to travel in bus lanes which completely undermines the whole point of having them and endangers other road users. This will encourage petrol car users to break the rules as it could become difficult to distinguish an electric and a petrol car.

  27. I’ve figured it out just now:

    NZTA hates cook street
    AWHC will ruin cook street further
    AWHC needs more congestion to increase need
    Buslanes reduce congestion
    Encourage peak hour driving
    Ruin bus experience


  28. Bridges on RNZ this morning (Nine to Noon slot), talked about EV’s crowding out buses in bus lanes as “a bloody nice problem to have”.

    Careful what you wish for Mr Bridges. It might come true – and sooner than you want/expect.

    He also said on the Bus lane thing that a consultation process has to occur before they’re allowed and access to each bus lane will be reviewed on a case by case basis and some EVs in them will happen for some lanes, and for others it won’t.

    So does Bridges think that by freeing NZTA’s hand on the Northern Busway, he is merely “allowing the possibility of” EVs in the Northern Busway?

    I think NZTA and MoT believe that his announcements meansthat EVs will have an automatic right to use the Busway without further consultation once the rule change is enacted.

    I also dislike how Bridges will willingly pencil-whip unnecessary rules away – when lobby groups tell him its inconvenient for them to stay, but he will delay, pontificate and postulate about a simple thing like decriminalising mandatory helmet laws for adults as “way too hard”. Or making a minor a rule prioritising cyclists and pedestrians at side streets.

      1. Very, talk about a developing mess – so will AT have to change all their Bus Lane signage for those where its allowed to have a little “EV” symbol like they do for Buses, Motorcycles etc.
        And how many car drivers will notice if that bus lane allows them or not.

        The bigger issue is that it causes non-EVs to use the bus lanes as they think they’re entitled to as well. And is one of the real objections to taxis on Grafton Bridge – it would encourage others to join in.

        Talk about making policy on the hoof.

    1. “Bridges on RNZ this morning (Nine to Noon slot), talked about EV’s crowding out buses in bus lanes as “a bloody nice problem to have”.”

      This brings to mind some obvious questions such as why does Simon Bridges think this will be a “nice” problem to have? Does he care about public transport and all its users? How will he solve this problem? or does he think it is such a “nice” problem that it won’t need solving or someone else can deal with it?

      1. I’ve never bought that Bridges has any interest in PT. He’s been happy to be there for the opening of PT or cycle projects but he’s basically a National auto-dependency guy.

  29. Hearing reports that AT was not consulted or even given a heads up on this. Does Wellington really believe in ‘alignment’ as a two way street: or is their conception of it like half a one-way couplet?

    This does not look positive for ATAP. MoT’s and the Minister’s obsession with new technology in cars as a means to perpetuate and extend auto-domination of our cities is very concerning as it only takes into account part of the picture (ignore spatial efficiency). And is essentially ideological in basis, and therefore only distantly related to reality.

    1. New technology? Electric cars are 19th century tech. We are constantly told to move on from 19th century tech like trains, presume electric cars are in the same boat. Where are those flying cars?

    2. Lets hope AT writes MOT a nice letter:

      “Dear Simon,

      We would like to congatulate you on such an innovative policy idea. Based on this newly aquired flexbility in our management of special vehicle lanes, we have reviewed our existing network to determine which would be suitable for use by EVs. At this stage we have not identified any such lanes, but will be sure to review this as and when we implement new special vehicle lanes in the future.

      Kind Regards


  30. Calm down guys

    The number of electric cars on the roads is so minimal at the moment it will have next to no impact. This is just a temporary measure because once electric cars do pick up in use and start causing problems in bus lanes the rules will change and they will be back in the main stream of traffic.

    Big deep breath….

    1. I tend to agree with you but it’s such a silly idea it would still be better to knock it on the head now so we don’t have to go through that process.

      I don’t know why the government needs to get involved to be honest. It’s a bit like tourism, they spent the first 70 years of the 20th century unsuccessfully trying to build NZs tourism industry only for the advent of the wide bodied jet coming along and doing it for them. We are not a new car nation, at some point EVs will be cheap to pick up second hand from Japan and the proliferation will begin, whether the government likes it or not.

    2. Well except it is excruciatingly painful to change an entrenched entitlement. You know who is going to be driving expensive electric cars on routes leading to the CBD (i.e. the ones with bus lanes) at peak times: Lawyers, business big wigs, CEOs, government elites. Good luck getting them to give up their free uncongested private vehicle commute for “stinking buses full of stinking proles”.

    3. If this policy is going to work as an incentive to buy an EV, it will have to remain in place for at least the life of the EVs that are bought. Not “temporary” at all.

  31. I had high hopes that Minister Simon was a notch above Brownlee and possibly more savvy than failed self appointed strategist Joyce but this potential decision is ‘Simply Simon awful’.
    As some one with a generally conservative outlook I have come to the conclusion that Government transport policy making is the absolute pits and that NZTA is the worst managed government agency by far. Ugh!

  32. Is there a potential technical solution for this? I’ve seen median barriers that are impassable for cars, but passable for buses due to a wider axle – could these be implemented?

  33. OK so that shows us that rail has one significant advantage over bus lanes. Some half-witted Minister cant clog rail with what ever vehicle is currently trendy.

    1. “Some half-witted Minister cant clog rail with what ever vehicle is currently trendy.”

      Oh really?

      So where did the platooning of trucks using the rail corridor idea come from if not the same school of thinking as this one.

      And we’re only one pen stroke away from have that foisted upon us without consultation.

    2. I fear also that personal, electric powered, self-driving (and serving) “railway jigger carts” are soon coming to the Auckland Rail Network as well courtesy of another half-arsed Ministerial policy.

      Why bother stopping with allowing an electric SOV holding up a double decker loaded with 90+ people on it, when you can hold up a whole EMU with 750+ people on it just as easily!
      You get nearly 8 times the effect for the same effort.

      1. I can’t even understand why the Government wants to promote these crap vehicles. They cost too much and have to be built as light as motorbikes so they can have under powered motors because of range problems. Either that or they load them with batteries like Tesla and charge a fortune. People are not buying them because they are useless.

  34. I also would like to see more EV’s on our roads. But this government is out of touch and has no clue. Especially when it comes to housing transport and taxation.
    I would of expected GST to be removed on EV sales or free toll road usage but now I can look forward to some rich git holding up my bus lane.
    I would like to make an EV my next car, But doesn’t help that I’m just another nail in this low wage economy.
    But I have always thought that getting more people on electric trains will be the easy way to reduce carbon footprint, and use our own energy for transport in NZ.

  35. In the top photo you will see, next to the motorway lanes, the shoulder lanes. The North Shore buses used to run on these. Let’s put a speed limit on them, say 50 kmh) and allow EV’s to use those.

  36. I just hate the whole philosophy. Yes, electric cars are a good thing, and better in many ways than a conventional vehicle, but they’re still a car. Horribly expensive and inefficient in their use of space, lead to a huge number of deaths through road accidents, and still hugely damaging in terms of the environmental impact required to build one, like any car.

    Also they just create even more pressure to consume – get rid of your old car, buy a new electric one. Look at a Tesla for instance. Technologically impressive, sure, but full of flashy gimmicks to get people to part with their cash. It’s a marketing company, a bit like Apple.

    Rather than encouraging electric cars we should be encouraging people to not use cars where possible. Demote the importance of the car in our society. Take back our streets for people. Transport people more efficiently through PT. Stop buying so much expensive stuff.

    Cars are dinosaurs, and all that electric vehicles do is prolong their demise. But the privileged, arrogant, and non-thinking see them as a panacea that will avoid them ever having to change.

    Rant over. Angry.

    1. Cars remain the best way to move round the city except to peak hour. Ultimately self driving cars will happen, reduce the number of deaths and change the way that we use our cars.

      1. I don’t believe fully autonomous self-driving cars will happen, at least not for many many decades or even centuries. You can have all the self-steering, lane-following, GPS-assisted goodies you like, but to have cars that are 100% guaranteed to be able to reach their destination without any accidents (which you’d need to have, given the potential for lawsuits), they would need to have artificial intelligence the likes of which we’re absolutely nowhere near after years and years of trying.

        They’d need to be able to follow hand traffic signals by police at accidents, understand stop/go lollipop signals, know how to follow badly placed and hard to read diversion signs and traffic cones at roadworks, understand nods and flashes of lights people give to let cars through, or let them merge into traffic lanes, cope with all weather types, back up out of narrow streets when they encounter a car coming the other way, negotiate their way around broken down vehicles etc. Not going to happen.

        Also, do you really think car companies want this? Sure they’re keen to showcase their driverless car technology as a marketing tool, but the last thing they want is a future full of fully autonomous cars, as that would inevitably result in far fewer sales, as we would be able to share vehicles.

        1. Regading AI, yes the cars will have to have some very impressive intelligence in order to drive 100% safely; interpreting the world around it and reacting to it.
          However, that doesn’t mean they need general intelligence. They won’t need to understand philosophy, human emotion, The Bachelor or really anything else that doesn’t directly affect piloting a car.
          What I’m saying is, the AI needed to pilot a car safely is actually orders of magnitude less complex than building a human level (or greater) general intelligence. This is a lot closer to happening than might be thought, if you look at some of the other stuff out there that’s happening. This, for example is quite impressive at describing the world to the blind:

      2. Hmmm. This is a common claim. Yes AVs will, when in sufficient number, improve efficiency of motorways to some degree through connectivity and platooning. But on city streets? Not a chance; they’ll be programmed to be so conservative as to be useless anywhere there are people in any number. In fact I would go so far as to say that AVs will accelerate the total de-carring of city centres. They will be fantastic for getting to the Rapid Transit Station to get you into the dense walkable centres where the action is, but they won’t be on those streets, almost no vehicles will.

        1. Ultimately depends you want to use your car for. I’ve just been shopping. A trip that would be impractical on any sort of public transport, going to multiple shops a kilometre away from each other and needing boot space to bring things home. Cars are inherently more flexible. There are situations where public transport works, if everyone wants to go into the city to work for example, but for most trips that I make would simply make them much slower or not possible at all

        2. No, I haven’t. Cool idea. Would possibly be workable, in some situations, might have struggled with what I had to carry today, and wouldn’t be so good if it was raining. So, yes, in some situations yes that could work

        3. Yes of course, flexibility is not a feature of a single PT route, it is of a full network, and of course it is of cars and bikes. But that is only one virtue, and one that only works if streets are uncontested and especially if destinations are nearby. But remember no movement system has to be ideal for every kind trip to be successful, specialisation is a virtue in a city; adaptability is in less populous places. I never drive to the city centre, and I am never with a whole range of choices [flexibility] of places I can get to. And shopping is not hard without a car, delivery is usually an option.

          Great cities offer the choices, this is efficiency.

        4. I agree about flexibility. I want to have the flexibility to be able to use my car on occasions when it is useful. I would never drive into the city during the week, I would then use public transport, but I avoid the city where I possibly can. My point is until things get way too expensive cars are still the best way to do things. Delivery of what I purchased a would be around $60. Cost me way less than that to pick it up. So the economics and simplicity of using the car make a lot of sense for the foreseeable future.

        5. “economics”

          You actually mean *financials*, the economics mean it is far better for society for you to do literally anything else.

        6. Not just financials. As outlined in another comment, the alternative ways of taking a trip provide much lower productivity. In the case of the trip I took today I would probably have lost a couple of hours of work time. That’s two hours less productive, and therefore worse for the economy (particularly since everything I do is exported). Cars are valuable for productivity in many cases. In other cases I don’t really understand why people don’t use public transport, like if you are going into town to work, would seem that would be a faster and thus more productive option than sitting on the motorway. So depends on the situation.

        7. And yet, often the choice is as follows.

          You have to go maybe 5 km to the shop (and as soon as you’re not after groceries, 5 km is a pretty good figure in Auckland):

          So what are the options?

          1. On a bike (or cargo bike) it wouldn’t be too bad, if only the streets were a bit friendlier. In some places you ma have 80 climbing metres each way.
          2. On a bus. The bus may be only 1 per hour, it may be late, it may be a 20 minute walk to the bus stop and another 20 minute walk to the shop. A round trip may very well take over 2 hours.
          3. The car. That will probably take around 15 minutes each way, allowing for things like traffic lights, parking, driveways and short walks on both ends. If you’re just picking something up you’re probably back home in well under an hour.

          Option 1 is ruled out for a variety of reasons including physical fitness, pressed for time, or desire to survive for another couple of years.
          Having only a finite amount of free time rules out option 2.
          So only option 3 remains. Too bad.

          Obviously, the last thing we want to do about that is allowing cars in bus lanes.

  37. I’m outraged at the prospect of electric vehicles driving on the northern busway, which ranks with the most fabulously successful transit initiatives in the country. Proponents, however, will easily dismiss people like us as loony red-green car hating extremists as, on the surface, this policy change will sound sensible to most. The key to changing minds is to propose an alternative policy that still gives advantage to electric cars without giving away hard won transit infrastructure. My idea is for Auckland Transport to riposte with electric vehicle only parking spots at northern busway stations, and park and rides elsewhere in the city, as an alternative incentive. With my idea it will be much harder for critics to convince the public that AT and public transit users are irrational electric car haters.

    AT will need to be clever advocates for this in the media. They have to remind people how successful it is,as the concept of a busway doesn’t hold the same sense of importance as rail in the public’s mind. None the less if we look at boarding stats the busway is just as important as any rail line in Auckland, with four times the number of passengers as the Onehunga line, nearly as many as the Eastern (440K versus 450K per month) and fully 80% as many passenger trips as our busiest train line – the Western.

    No one would accept a loss of rail priority to private vehicles, we know that, and logically the same should be true for the northern busway in light of the statistics. This move could threaten the viability of Ritchies recent multi-million dollar investments into double decker buses for this route, and disadvantage the thousands who rely on the service every day. Moreover, why is a right wing government interfering in local affairs? Their entire ideology rests on the idea that central government is too far away from every day decision to choose for the best outcome. That is why devolution is so beloved by them, local government are close to their constituents and know better the needs of the population. Auckland Transport are doing a good job of improving PT here and should be given the ultimate say.

  38. This will have deep long implication to shape generations of our future transport behaviour. This need to be widely discussed and a lot of empirical research need to be done. It is not a election political decision made in hurry without thought.

    1. Won’t happen, it’ll be gently sidestepped, Bridges is already putting all sorts of caveats on it; they’ll be a bunch ‘yes minister’ moments and technicalities form AT and others….

  39. i can’t believe you guys didn’t see this coming. Electric vehicles are largely going to be self driving (like teslas for example). bus lanes wil be perfect to introduce them, less conflicts etc. this is just the first step. if it really was for environmental and congestion reasons they wou,d allow the tens of thousands of motorbikes already in circulation to use the nzta busways

    1. In a Mythbusters episode I saw they found that motorbikes were generally more polluting than modern ICE cars.

      1. wrong. in a city environment they are immensely less polluting. unless you talk about american mktorcycles but they are rubbish anyway

        1. no, it’s in bus LANES where the conflict will be greater, frequent bus stops, traffic signals etc. EV drivers will become impatient and want to change lanes frequently, then there would need to be an E signal to go with the B so buses don’t miss the queue jump and this phase would have to be extended to allow more vehicles through

          in contrast the Busway is more resilient and is designed to allow some private (HOV) use, as I’ve said elsewhere it’s the arterial bus lanes that are more vulnerable

        2. kind of, although busway volumes (cars and buses) and speeds are higher so the risk of excess demand and something going wrong is greater on the busway I would think.

        3. Risk at the entrances to stations does increase as the access for buses crosses pedestrian demand lines. More vehicles = higher risk to PT users.

  40. Maybe my google-fu is failing me, but I can’t find what proportion of new vehicle sales are to private individuals as opposed to businesses. With electric vehicle prices so high, it is very hard for most private individuals to justify buying electric, so it would seem that targeting businesses with incentives for buying electric is the best way to increase their uptake. This would have the additional benefit of releasing a significant number of used electrics on to the private buyers market in 3 year’s time.

    At the moment the lack of uptake isn’t too hard to understand. There’s hardly any vehicles available, they cost a lot more than equivalent IC powered models and there’s not many public places that they can be recharged from. Address those issues and there’s no reason to mess around with the bus and HOV lanes.

    1. Vast majority of new cars in NZ are sold to businesses, whether direct or through lease arrangements. This is why the NZGreens policy of removing FBT from EV’s is a good idea. Another idea is to increase the depreciation rate for EV’s which could spike a faster turn over rate. And we need many more charging stations.

  41. Curious that this announcement comes a fortnight after NZ Bus announced a $30m electric bus deal :-
    “Infratil does $30m electric bus tech deal”

    The Wrightspeed electric system is used in rubbish trucks in the US, will be interesting to see if these measures result in the same thing happening here.

    Also, will be interesting to see which truck company is first to announce an electric van or delivery truck.

    1. If the government wants electric vehicles to use buslanes perhaps they should front up with the money to buy electric buses, or better invest in light rail

  42. With regard to the use of the northern busway, the existing NZTA bylaw makes interesting reading.
    Even buses don’t have automatic right to use the busway. Bus operators are required to be authorized and it sets up a two tier system that recognizes operational constraints and places scheduled bus services in the first tier ahead of other charter/tour/intercity/special/airport shuttles, which form the second tier. It also sets out a whole bunch of criteria under which the 2nd tier approvals can be amended or revoked on safety and capacity grounds.

    1. It looks as if that bylaw will require quite a lot of amendment for this loony plan to proceed. For instance, it’s hard to see how your average EV user will be able to comply with clause 5, which applies to authorised buses (there are no provisions to authorise any other vehicles):

      Content of application for authorisation
      5. An application for authorisation to operate vehicles of the types listed in clause 4 above must:
      5.1 be on the form provided by the Agency for authorisation to operate vehicles on the Northern Busway.
      5.2 detail the number and type of vehicles that will use the Northern Busway and the schedule of services (where appropriate), time or times when those vehicles will use the Northern Busway.
      5.3 provide details of the emergency procedures that are to be followed in the event such that a vehicle breaks down on the Northern Busway. Those procedures must be approved by the Agency. The emergency procedures must appoint a breakdown vehicle company and an appropriate haulage company that will attend the breakdown and/or tow the disabled vehicle and provide for the attendance of those vehicles at the site of the breakdown within 30 minutes of a vehicle breaking down. In the event that the hours of operation of any appointed breakdown vehicle company or haulage company are limited, the operator must not operate a vehicle on the Northern Busway outside of those hours of operation.
      5.4 detail the method of communication between the drivers of the vehicle and the Busway Operations Centre.

      1. Govt will probably just get rid of these provisions, the way they got rid of mines inspectors. Then pat themselves on the back for their astuteness.

  43. I must remember to thank Simon Bridges for solving my issues. I will now be able to live north of the city where the property prices are a bit more affordable and commute to work each day on the busway in my new electric car. As the distance is a bit long and I’ll get a bit of range anxiety, I’ll slow down once on the busway to extend the battery range. No need to worry about these double decker buses backed up behind me as there’s only a few of those compared to the number of cars who had been backed up behind me on the motorway. Hey, we’re still travelling faster than the cars on the motorway, right? Every evening I’ll do the same going back home.
    Once again, thanks Mr Bridges. This works brilliantly for me, stuff everyone else. 😉

    1. You raise something that concerns me with this proposal (ignoring the many other issues of this proposal for the moment). What happens when someone breaks down in their EV the buslane? At the moment these vehicles are new and should be well maintained, although range may still be an issue, but as they age the batteries may become less reliable and range decreases with age. So to sell a few cars now are we going to end up in a future where buses are significantly slowed because of broken down EVs and people concerned that they’re not going to get home so are going very slow in their EVs?

  44. Is this the National government’s strategy for reducing carbon emissions? I can see why the world thinks kiwis are dumb. A thick idea from a thick government.

  45. It’ll only become an issue if there’s a massive uptake in buying electric cars, and that’s a good thing. Once they are established as mainstream, they can then be removed from bus lanes once more. Just as some of the other incentives are short term only, to be removed when electric vehicles reach 2% of the car fleet. Maybe that’s the idea anyway? It’s about getting NZ out of the dismal situation it’s currently in, where almost nobody is buying electric.

    Interesingly, the business case for the Northern Busway relied upon cars using it, which is why a car entrance is provided at Constellation station. I guess that will become the electric vehicle entrance now?

    1. Depends on the counterfactual. A better thing might be more people on public transport because we have improved, rather than worsened, bus priority. An SOV PHEV is hardly an environmental panacea.

    2. Yes, but how many people will seriously be influenced in their decision to buy an expensive electric car by the promise of (Wow! – wait for it. . .) being able to DRIVE IN A BUS LANE? (Ooooh the thrill :-).
      Maybe on the Northern Busway it will make a material difference but so far that’s the only busway of substance in the country. Most cities have mere dribs and drabs of bus lanes if they have any at all. I can’t see that this privilege will actually be much of an inducement for the average Kiwi in Kawerau to shell out for an EV.

      However it will be an inducement to clutter up what bus lanes there are, by those who already have an EV or intend to buy one anyway. And given that abuse of bus lanes by car-users is already a problem, this will make things worse. Either Simon Bridges is very ignorant of the value of bus lanes for PT, or else he is wilfully trying to sabotage them. Such is the abysmal quality of governance we have.

      I hope the opposition come out cogently and forcefully against this stupid proposal (someone may need to wake Labour up first) and that it ends up where it belongs, in the bin along with the flag proposal.

    3. But that business case simply reflected the assumptions of the time and the ideology of the transport sector, and has been entirely superseded by reality; use of buses because of the busway quickly outstripped the projections in that business case rendering it redundant.

      1. Also worth pointing out that that business case capped the number of HOVs to use the busway at 400 vehicles over the morning peak. More than that and the busway would congest and the supposed benefits go backwards. Thats only 200 per hour, or about 1/10th the capacity of a motorway lane.

        Anyway thats moot, as Patrick says the old business case from 15 years ago was unambitious and totally business as usual, as such it assumed that the bus system would be a failure and it would have to be fixed with cars. Clearly not the case as bus patronage is well ahead of projections. Reading between the lines, sometimes you have to promise things and build in the likes of car access ramps you know you’ll probably never use, just to get something to work in an evaluation structure that isn’t quite right.

        1. Nick, your suggestion that the assumption of the time was that buses would fail is incorrect. HOVs were introduced into the funding case because the funding formulae of the day were so heavily biased towards cars/roads that we were having an uphill struggle getting a BCR of 3 (memory of the value may be shaky here) as the value of time of a bus passenger was less than half that of a car driver. That HOVS weren’t on the Busway from day one indicates the intent and PT inclination of the planners and builders of the Busway.

          HOVs were the backup plan and only that, should Shore residents not take to the bus services as hoped. Also, HOV uptake was as much, if not more, a speculative possibility than bus use and I think that the relatively low use of HOVs even now, except perhaps on Onewa Rd demonstrates that they remain not a popular option;

          with hindsight it might be easy to sneer at the hoops we had to get through to get the Busway project going, but we did manage to get it in place and it is more successful than we might have dreamed at the time, but I can assure you that without Beca’s work on the funding case and without the inclusion of “phantom” HOVs, the Busway wouldn’t be there today.

  46. The ONLY reason for the government to intervene in the private car market and encourage the rapid uptake of electric cars is to reduce emissions. The bus lane policy directly contradicts that. So tell me again, why is the government actually using our taxes to promote electric cars?

    Our family recently purchased a Nissan Leaf. I commute by electric bike and bus from Lower Hutt to Wellington. And I dont support the bus lane policy.

    1. A larger reason is to improve our balance of trade by reducing oil consumption, also consider that fuel prices won‘t always stay low. Another reason is to diversify our vehicle fleet. Electric vehicles could continue to operate in times of war or if middle east oil suddenly became unavailable.
      A second hand leaf is quite a good buy. I‘ll probably get one for our next around town car. Just waiting for the price tocome down a little more, i.e. once they‘re 7 years old.

    1. Wow, thanks for links Patrick. London cycling looks like a revolution at the moment, excuse the pun.

      “Another interesting find to spring from the Gothenburg analysis is that public support isn’t always necessary to get a congestion pricing programme running, especially if there is the political will to push it through. A non-binding September 2014 referendum found 57% of Gothenburg residents preferred not to extend the programme but public officials decided to continue it anyway. Surprisingly, as time went on and people became more familiar with it, public enthusiasm for congestion charging grew from 30% in spring 2013 to close to 55% in autumn 2014.”

      Note to ministers and Mayoral candidates: It’s called leadership.

      1. To my mind the really important point about both these ‘revolutions’ is that neither are because of new technology. The bike is hardly new, these are mostly not e-bikes, and nor is it because of new infrastructure, the new bike infra in London has followed his change. Importantly this is a behavioural change, completely independent of Apps or whizz bang autonomous tech. But our agencies and especially our ministers are obsessed with toys, gadgets, things, and insufficiently interested in behaviours and changing trends.

        Importantly I think there is more to link both these stories that meets the eye. While of course they bike boom in London has a lot contributing causes, like a desire to be healthier, to be living more sustainably, even to be up with a trend, there’s also no doubt that very practical push factors are also involved. The Congestion Charge has clearly reduced driving, as has congestion itself, but there are also a number of reasons for avoiding London’s very widespread Transit services too. The buses are widespread and frequent but often very slow as they are also caught in congestion, the Tube and Overground are great but increasingly very crowded and actually very expensive, especially compared to cycling. And the cycling revolution did seem to start in Shoreditch and newly fashionable parts of East London, not only cos that’s where hipsters are but also because that area has always been in a ‘Tube-Shadow’; it is thinly served by stations, like South London.

        So like the big change in Gotenburg, there are real cost factors at play; in time, money, convenience, and experience. In Gotenburg through deliberate policy, and in London, partly policy, partly solution of the city pressures through the re-centering of living and working.

        What we could achieve in Auckland, now in a time of growth, with more thought to behaviour change through service provision and incentives/disincentives, and less on what next fantasy technologies may or may not do….

  47. Simon Bridges should read a bit of history before he nobles the bus lanes with EV’s, he and the rest of the politicians could learn something by looking back at transport before the car era, this account of transport 1850 to 1900 and shows what horses accomplished over 100 years ago in London, phase out the car and Auckland would have no difficulty.

    From “Dickens London”

    By 1900, 3000 horse-drawn buses were carrying 500 million passengers a year. A traffic count in Cheapside and London Bridge in 1850 showed a thousand vehicles an hour passing through these areas during the day.

    1. Phase out the car and there would be massive productivity loss! In the vast majority of cases it takes far longer to get where you want to go on public transport unless roads are clogged. This is because it is not going to go everywhere that people need to go. Cars have given us an incredible increase in freedom of travel. They won’t be phased out any time soon.

      1. How do cars make us more productive, they consume a finite resource, when oil goes into decline it will have devastating consequences for society, it took less than a 5% cut in production to have carless days and that was only a temporary shortage.

        Doesn’t anyone care about the planet, just our own wants. If CO2 was visible like horse dung, how different we would view our world, Cities in particular would be seen as the polluted places they are.

        1. I care about planet IMMENSELY. I spend huge amounts of time and money ensuring that my property is able to attract and support life for native birds and insects.

          The environment is incredibly important to me. But that does not require me to hate cars.

          Productivity is a different issue than the use of a potentially finite resource. Cars enable us to produce much more by saving time getting from place to place. They enable us to have a greater quality of life by being able to visit our families/friends in different places and live where we wish to live.

          I note that the Green party aren’t actually telling us that oil is running out anymore, because there is now an oversupply of oil. And the development of things like electric cars will change our requirements for oil. As the price of oil goes up, the interest in electric cars will go up so the market will provide alternatives.

          I agree our cities are polluted, but not by carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is necessary for life. Cars and old wood burning fires produce other pollutants that to me are things I would worry about far more than carbon dioxide. But we are getting better at creating cleaner burning of fuel, so progress is being made.


        2. Yes. In this Solar System it should only last another 5,000,000,000 years!

  48. Now that the govt has found a fiscally neutral incentive, do you really expect them to stop with EVs? Soon we’ll qualify for bus lane fine waivers if we quit smoking, repay our student loans and force our kids to give up screen time in favour of exercise programmes. We may look back fondly on having been neutered when we’re close to death by a thousand cuts of the castration knife

  49. Will seapath provide a connection directly to the northern busway so that electric bicycles (a.k.a. electric vehicles) will be connect all the way from Northcote Point to Constellation?

  50. Until there is a major change in battery technology, an electric car, for me, will only ever be a second car. The is because my primary vehicle – a diesel 4 x 4, is used for a lot of other things besides commuting, such as towing, and carting work gear around the countryside. It is also very handy for me; because I am ever so slightly disabled, I simply can’t hop in and out of an ordinary car. With the Bighorn, I simply wriggle my bum and I am sitting in it, and a quick swing of the legs and I am out. An electric 4 x 4 with a decent range I could definitely be interested in, provided it won’t cost me any more than about $5000.

  51. I’m interested in how both the generation and distribution of power in New Zealand will be impacted by EVs (assuming plug in). If NZ were to change all of the ICVs to EVs, assuming no other changes to our power demand, would the current system be able cope? I’m guessing that it couldn’t, so what is needed to be done to increase demand and transmission to allow the system to cope? There are numerous other issues around this such as reliability of supply and vulnerability of infrastructure (a lot of regions are supplied by only one high voltage line that if severed leaves people without power and if EVs are the future then without transportation beyond walking and bicycle as well). I’ve searched but not found anything really covering these issues, are there any sources that someone can suggest I could read regarding these issues?

    1. Recently electricity demand has been flat, due to improved efficiency of things like LEDs, increased insulation, improved efficiency of industrial plant, and climate change. Power Cos are desperate for EVs as a new market, the only source of growth on the horizon. Furthermore there is the 13% of current generation used by the Tiwai Pt smelter that is likely to added to the grid sometime soon as that ageing and inefficient plant closes or at least contracts. There are also a great deal of renewable generation projects consented and ready to go but the softness of the demand picture is stalling these projects. And lastly a big fleet of EVs would provide a whole lot of consumer funded distributed storage; it isn’t hard to see why the power cos are desperate for them to be incentivised, as they provide a way to sell electrons at times of high supply, like from wind generation at night….. in short electricity is something we’re rich in, and have the potential to cost effectively and renewably to grow the supply of. This is not a constraint, the actual vehicles themselves; their availability, and price, is the problem.

      Now e-bikes; they have scaled much more quickly- for every EV built in the world today 100 E-Bikes are made….. [just saying’]

      1. Thanks for the reply, this certainly speaks to the generation side of things in New Zealand. I’m still not sure about the transmission side of things, Manapouri (800MW) provides power primarily to Tiwai but to utilize this power I don’t know if there is adequate power transmission to the areas that will become larger users as a result of EVs. This can be a significant issue as consenting new power lines, or even increase the transmission amps on existing ones, can be very difficult/time consuming followed by the cost of building the line. I would hope that the politicians and SoEs responsible for these areas are considering these issues…

    2. Would stopping the Tiwai smelter’s contract be enough? About 15% of NZ’s current [sic] electricity output, apparently.

    3. My electrical engineering friends working in Wellington for organisations managing our electricity systems have done some back of envelope calculations and they agree with Patrick in that the industry has enough consented but not built electricity generation that we could quite easily ramp up generation if EV’s were to replace ICE.

      So the problems/constraints holding us back lie with EVs themselves and the network needed to manage them -charging stations etc.

      Also there is still the network -Beta vs VHs type problem, in that it is not 100% certain what vehicle type will replace ICE.

      EVs, hydrogen…. what type of charging or fueling stations are required?

      So while that is up in the air -no politician is going to choose to spend large amounts of money providing infrastructure for a network of ICE replacement vehicles when the rest of the world might decide another system/technology is better. Politicians are very risk averse….

      1. I’m confused why the government should/would need to install the charging/fueling stations. When transportation moved from horses to cars petrol stations were constructed to meet a growing need, if EVs start to become popular then the need should be met by private industry. If the power companies are so desperate to have an EV market then you would think they would build stations or at least co-develop with others, similar to how oil companies like Standard Oil (now Mobil/Esso/Exxon) built their own petrol stations at the dawn of the motoring era.

        1. The problem as I see it is that there are probably people who are waiting for more infrastructure such as charging stations to be built before buying an electric car, However private industry is waiting for more people to buy electric cars before it becomes viable to build charging stations. I am sure if left alone they will be built eventually, the point of the government stepping in is to help kick-start the process and speed it along a bit more.

  52. I wonder if a little civil disobedience couldn’t help keep the busway free of single occupant vehicles. Imagine driving through Sunnynook in your Tesla during the morning peak and having 50+ people pull the fingers at you. If that didn’t work, maybe some eggs connecting with windscreens at speed would further enhance the point.

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