This week will see the first two 100% battery powered electric buses for public transport hit the streets in Auckland on the City Link route. They’re not quite the first ones overall though as AUT launched one as a shuttle between their campuses last month. The buses have been bought by Auckland Transport and are also funded by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
The buses are the electric version of the ones currently used on the City Link, and a number of other NZ Bus routes. Other than some changes to the styling, there are a couple of useful to the buses. The rear door is slightly larger which will make it easier for people getting off, however for some reason, AT have only put one HOP card reader at the back door. Having a second reader would make alighting much faster. There is also a bit more standing space thanks to the folding seats, although I wonder if they couldn’t have been extended all the way to the rear door. Most people using the City Link are doing very short trips, such as from Wynyard to Britomart, so having more people standing isn’t to much of an issue.
Sadly, I think these will be the only buses of their kind we see in Auckland for a while. With the new bus network rolling out and aligned with new long term contracts, the bus companies have had to invest in a lot of new buses to meet ATs criteria. With much newer fleets, it means it could be quite some time before those companies need to invest in new buses again.
Here’s the press release
The future is electric and Auckland Transport is driving into the future with its first electric buses.
The two buses are a trial funded by the Government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Auckland Transport (AT).
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter have launched the buses which will operate on the City Link service from next week.
Mr Goff says, “Last year I pledged with mayors from around the world to work towards making our streets fossil-fuel free. As part of the declaration I committed Auckland to procure only zero-emission buses by 2025. Today marks a positive step towards achieving that goal.
“Compared to diesel buses, the new e-buses will be cleaner, quieter and provide our passengers with a better experience. Modern electric buses can have a range of more than 200 km with one charge so the shorter runs on the hilly city loop are a great testing ground.
“Auckland is serious about leading the response to climate change in New Zealand and internationally. Transport contributes over a third of greenhouse gas emissions in Auckland and this trial supports our efforts to lower emissions in our city,” says Mr Goff.
Ms Genter says electric buses are great news for people working, visiting, and living in the city. They’re better for the climate, they’re quieter, and keep the air we breathe clean.
“It’s great to see trials like this, which will help local and central government learn and plan for large scale deployment of zero emissions buses.”
Mr Goff says, “I want council to lead the way on reducing transport emissions by finding efficiencies, shrinking our fleet numbers and progressively replacing petrol and diesel vehicles with EVs.”.
Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison says the two buses will help AT develop a Zero Emission Bus Roadmap for Auckland. “These buses will help us accurately estimate whether electric buses meet the needs of our customers, what routes they can operate on and, of course, whether they’re commercially viable.
Mr Ellison says these are exciting times for electric vehicle technology. “In January, we replaced some of our fleet vehicles with electric cars. These 20 cars are performing well and are just the beginning of the change to EVs for Auckland Transport.”
The supplier of the buses is Alexander Dennis/BYD. Tony Moore, General Manager of ADL New Zealand says the buses for the trial are based on the Transport for London e-buses. “We are working with progressive transport authorities, cities and enlightened political leaders around the world to introduce, emission-free transport solutions.
“The Mayor has made it clear that Auckland intends to lead the way in the drive towards a greener, cleaner environment and the introduction of these buses is important in that journey.”
Auckland Transport was awarded $500,000 from the EECA Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund towards one of the buses and charging infrastructure. Auckland Transport’s contribution towards the cost of the buses is $1.21m.
EECA is also funding the installation of 60 EV charging stations at Auckland Transport parking facilities.
Battery powered electric buses are on their way to other cities too. Wellington is getting 10 electric double deckers in the middle of the year (having just ripped out it’s trolley buses) and Tauranga is getting five electric buses as part of an overhaul of it’s bus network at the end of the year.