If Auckland Transport’s Low Emission Bus Roadmap is adopted by its board next week, all new buses in Auckland from 2025 onward and all buses by 2040 will need to have zero emissions. They also are targeting to have the City Link as the first route fully electric and are targeting that for November 2020 when a new contract for it commences.

The moves are part of AT’s response to Mayor Phil Goff signing the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration that commits Auckland to buying only zero emission buses from 2025 and ensuring a major area of the city is zero emission by 2030. Achieving these goals isn’t a straightforward task but even so I can’t help but wonder if AT couldn’t do more to achieve it even earlier.

Auckland currently has about 1,300 buses and the fleet has been increasing by about 5% per year – although much of that growth has come in the last few years associated with new contracts as part of the roll out of the new network. As part of those new contracts, AT require the average age of buses in an operators fleet to be no more than 10 years with no individual buses over 20 years old. The age and emission standard of the current fleet is shown below and in total 477 are over 10 years old.

Between 2020 and 2024, a large number of contracts are up for renewal and it that seems an opportune time to push for change rather than waiting for those contracts to be fulfilled with buses that could still be running around in 2040.

Below is a graph highlighting the options looked at for the roadmap for rolling out electric buses. They appear to be going for Option E, the slowest option of them all.

AT need to be more aggressive with this and I feel they underestimate the benefits to passengers, and potential gain in ridership, that would come with a faster adoption

Why we need this

Currently, transport makes up 34.8% of the greenhouse gas emissions in Auckland with cars being the biggest slice at of that representing 24.9%. But “diesel vehicles are estimated to be responsible for 81% of all vehicle-related air pollution health costs, with the annual health costs estimated at $466 million”. The image below shows the city centre with many locations exceeding

Moving to electric buses is expected to have significant social benefits.

AT have been trialling e-buses, how are they going?

You may recall back in April when Auckland Transport launched two electric buses to trial on the City Link service. AT say each bus and charger cost $840,000. In my opinion, these buses offer a significantly better experience to other buses in Auckland, both for bus passengers but also for pedestrians and cyclists thanks to having no emissions and being significantly quieter. The roadmap lays out the early operating costs results they’ve and they’re fantastic with costs just 25% of diesel buses.

AT, understandably, suggest that one of the biggest barriers to the adoption of e-buses is the capital cost of them. They say they paid $840,000 each for both of the bus and the chargers but also that they expect the prices to come down. The table below originally comes from Bloomberg and shows that by 2030, the capital cost of a new bus will be about the same as a diesel powered bus.

Other bits

Below are some of the more interesting challenges AT have identified to reaching their goals

  • Some of the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass (VDAM) regulations currently restrict capacity of some battery buses. I recall VDAM had to be changed a few years to allow double deckers on the roads more easily.
  • Not only do the buses cost more, there is a high set-up cost to for the electric charging infrastructure so the network can accommodate charging all the buses in a depot overnight. They say some of the changes needed to support an electric fleet could add $30-60 million in capital costs.
  • Bus manufacturers don’t currently make three-axle electric buses like we’d need in Auckland to replace our existing double decker fleet (Wellingtons new electric double deckers are only twin-axle and don’t have as much carrying capacity.

While battery powered buses are likely to be the most common, AT flag that hydrogen fuel cells are also emerging. This is notable given Ports of Auckland have just announced they’re going to build a hydrogen fuel plant.

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  1. Great post. Yes, AT’s approach here is underwhelming, and at odds with the Low Carbon Auckland Plan 2014. https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/plans-projects-policies-reports-bylaws/our-plans-strategies/topic-based-plans-strategies/environmental-plans-strategies/docslowcarboncopy/low-carbon-strategic-action-plan-full.pdf
    Page 27..
    By 2030: “Public transport and fleet conversions to EVs and alternative fuels are widespread.”
    By 2040: “Zero emissions from the public transport fleet.”

  2. Thanks, Matt. Such an important post. Our transport carbon emissions are a disgrace. Government and AT should:
    – stop building roads.
    – invest in walking and cycling for the known mode shift it creates.
    – quickly convert our public transport to electric.

    AT is labouring over the first two, tying itself up in knots because it won’t educate the public, while concurrently being scared of what the public doesn’t understand.

    But the last one isn’t a politically difficult step, surely? Most people don’t want to breathe diesel, and only a tiny education programme would have the vast majority understanding the public health cost and climate benefits from the investment.

      1. I would’ve thought Mike Hosking’s crowd would be especially in favour of electric busses. No more diesel exhaust in their lattes! I’m sure I saw this exact complaint about adding more bus capacity to Mt Eden Village.

    1. Yes this is a good post. AT may not be ambitious enough to get the bus fleet electric powered but AC are pretty lethargic to really get to the major cause of transport air pollution. That is to get a plan and soon-time to have all diesel engined vehicles initially banned from CB and soon after the greater Auckland area.
      Although making the bus fleet electric would be a bloody great start and Kiwirail should also take a lead and ensure only electric traction is used between Pukekohe and Swanson.

    2. Trouble is finding companies prepared to make the kind of investment you are proposing when having to bid for contracts. As bus replacement it can be absorbed

  3. Am I right in remembering that different bus operators own their own depots? Installing depot charging infrastructure is a big investment that further entrenches existing providers. This creates a barrier to entry for would-be competitors in the future. Possibly now is a good time to look at AT buying the depots, installing charging infrastructure and letting bus operators use them as part of the contracts.

  4. If Ports Of Auckland is looking at a hydrogen plant then hydrogen buses should be looked at and hydrogen filling station for the proposed Grafton Gully bus depot.

    1. Except that the hydrogen idea is just greenwash from POAL who are using it to delay doing what other ports in cities have done years ago to reduce air pollution in port.

      1. The port operates 24/7. It is not practical to have equipment out of service for extended periods to recharge batteries. Hydrogen offers similar refueling times as diesel.

        It also offers better range or at least range for vehicle cost.
        A Toyota Mirai with 500km range is US$58,000.
        A Tesla Model S with 500km range is $131,600.
        A Tesla model 3 with 500km range is possibly US$65,200 but unavailable
        There are no other EVs available with the range

        1. Hyundai Kona can do 400+ km for under $80k. I reckon that we will have affordable 500km EVs before hydrogen is viable.

    2. “then hydrogen buses should be looked at”

      Why? Get a competent engineer or someone well versed in thermodynamics to draw up a Sankey diagram for this hydrogen economy malarkey and look at that instead. It will tell you to stay well clear of hydrogen “powered” buses, trains, cars etc. The EROEI is abysmal.

    3. The Govt seems to quite like hydrogen maybe they know something we don’t like the 8 rivers clean gas thing. They seem to think they can produce electric power, hydrogen and urea from natural gas and pump all the carbon dioxide which the process produces down into the depleted Maui gas field. While I have got a few questions about it we shouldn’t dismiss it completely out of hand. I would post a link but when I try Greater Auckland spits me out.
      I would agree using hydrogen seems quite wasteful but maybe hydrogen does have a place. And good point about POAL working around the clock. They probably have a large switchboard to provide power for the electrolysis something that the bus depots won’t have. The example below to charge 100 electric buses comes out at 5 Megawatts which is a significant amount of power which would probably require a high voltage dedicated line to a Transpower substation such as Otahuhu.

      1. “maybe they know something we don’t like the 8 rivers clean gas thing”.

        8 Rivers uses an Allam cycle to produce electricity by burning natural gas. The claimed efficiency is slightly higher than a typical combined cycle thermal plant. The key point of difference is that the emission stream is pure CO2 rather than the CO2 mixed with a lot of N2 which is the case for the combined cycle. The CO2 does not have to be separated from the N2 and so sequestration of the CO2 is lower cost (that is the claim).

        I guess the questions to be asked are:
        Is the sequestration of the CO2 reliable and safe?
        Are we happy with burning a fossil fuel to generate electricity?
        How does this square with the government’s ban on further oil and gas prospecting?
        What is the cost of electricity from this capital-intensive process?

        As for the hydrogen aspect of 8 Rivers; there doesn’t seem to be one.

        What the government seems to have done is provide funds to a startup interested in promoting the Hazer process which involved production of hydrogen from natural gas using iron oxide as a low-cost catalyst. It’s interesting in that the carbon from the methane reports as graphite. Hazer are cagey about gaseous emissions and efficiency so I suspect that there are some skeletons in that closet.

        Once again, more questions re cost, maturity of the process, emissions, use of fossil fuel etc.

        At present 95% of the world’s hydrogen is produced from natural gas (and some coal) with the carbon content of the natural gas ending up in the atmosphere as CO2. Our energy minister has stated that we have an “abundance of renewable energy” and looks forward to a future in which NZ is exporting hydrogen from those sources so presumably electrolysis is the preferred route to the sunny uplands of exporting our electricity.

        There is currently a government-funded program to tack an electrolysis unit onto a geothermal plant as some sort of demonstration, the point of which is beyond me. The idea that we can export capital-intensive renewable electricity using a wasteful vector (hydrogen) with a comparative advantage really strains credibility.

        It seems to me that the government does not know more than us. It has either been suckered in by the purveyors of snake oil or is offering us their own snake oil. Neither of those bodes well for us.

        1. Yes the Allam cycle seems plausible but it only gives you electricity. But none of the reports tell us how the hydrogen will be produced. The Hazer process seems very experimental. I wonder if the carbon dioxide from steam reforming has to end up in the atmosphere though for instance Kapuni gas is 40 percent CO2 yet the CO2 is separated before it is sold and some of it is used to make methanol and urea from what I can make out so presumably it doesn’t have to be vented straight to atmosphere. So I am wondering if its the same for the CO2 generated from the steam reforming. But even if it is separated into a pure gas stream is the sequestration safe.

  5. Another reason to make queen st cars free. It will greatly reduce emissions levels there. Buses will be able to flow through faster too with less idling.

  6. I hate the whole hydrogen fuel discussion. It is a terrible form of storing electricity no matter what way you look at it. It might make sense to service a single site, but building an entire new infrastructure to service the whole country is stupid beyond belief.

  7. New Zealand is a green land but we sure as hell aren’t a green country despite always trying to kid ourselves we are a bunch of go getters and progressives. Until we accept that it is going to cost a lot both financially and socially to achieve what needs to be a achieved, things will just get put off and pt off till its too late.

  8. OK, so the capital cost of an electric bus is currently much higher than for a diesel bus, and the operating costs (was that just fuel, or was it also maintenance? Other costs?) are just 25% of a diesel bus. But how does the overall capital AND operating cost equation work right now, in 2018? That’s the number that the AT Board should be considering and basing their decisions on. Given the urgency of addressing climate change I’m seriously underwhelmed by AT’s approach. At very least a requirement that all new two-axle buses obtained from 2019 should be electric would send a strong message to the rest of the community that public bodies are serious about change.

    1. Wouldn’t you also say that AT should be required to include the public health cost benefits of no emissions? And enumerate the modeshift benefits that will come with more electric buses? And then for climate change – AT has a huge responsibility to reduce Auckland’s transport emissions. They’re currently ignoring the whole issue, as if their strategy team don’t think it’s their responsibility. What financial incentives and penalties must the government impose to make climate change matter to AT on the bottom line?

      1. Absolutely they should include also the public health benefits, notwithstanding that they don’t flow back to AT, when considering the issue. But my point is that just based on cold hard cash-flow (that directly impacts on AT’s bottom line) you’d expect something a little more sophisticated than what it appears the Board is being given. I would hope that the Board sends the report back to AT with a “not impressed” message and requests something more appropriate.

        1. I should’ve said “Yes, and…” as I agree with you. Just think they should be required to also put some more cost figures in.

      2. Heidi, can you elaborate on the modeshift benefits of electric busses? As a passenger, I don’t really care whether the bus I ride is diesel or electric. It’s the rest of the community outside the bus that is impacted by emissions (particulate, greenhouse gas and noise), but I can’t see how that directly leads to more people riding busses. I agree with the rest of your points 100%.

        1. When people are positive about something they are more likely to use it. We know people are more positive about electric buses in general. They may notice they’re not having to breathe the diesel fumes. They may notice they’re quieter. They may just think modern technology is the way forward. They may be in favour of moving away from fossil fuels. That’s a whole lot of positivity.

          I haven’t done any search to see if people have researched whether this positivity leads to people using the buses more, leading to mode shift. But I would strongly suspect that companies would be falling over themselves to get that sort of exposure and positivity about a product from an expensive advertising campaign. Scantily clad women and psychological techniques working on colour, texture, form, sound, emotional triggers, the latest memes… the techniques they’re having to use are many. I just think the buses themselves provide a pretty strong advertising campaign all by themselves.

          Although AT could possibly assist this with further direct advertising of the benefits (and I imagine they will).

    2. AT don’t buy the buses, the operators do. I imagine that if electric buses had a lower cost of ownership, the bus operators would be buying them already.
      AT can force electric buses on the operators when their next contract is due – but then AT would pick up the extra cost.

      1. [forgot to say that this is how I think it works from my limited knowledge – I am by no means an expert on PTOM]

      2. You’re absolutely correct, but AT can still strongly influence the purchase decision through PTOM. I don’t fully understand how PTOM operates either, but there’s clearly some ongoing flexibility in the contracts or AT would not be able to add or delete services during the contract. Any cost adjustments may be able to be finessed through the existing contracts. And if there is no such ability then I’d say they were terrible contracts and AT was negligent for signing them.

        As for whether electric buses have an overall lower cost of ownership AND operation, I really don’t know – that’s precisely my point and the one over which the AT Board should be sending staff a “please clarify” message. Any which way, it won’t be AT that picks up the cost, it will be the taxpayer, ratepayer and passenger that does so. Whatever the price is, it’s not even optional – we MUST move away from fossil fuels today – even yesterday if possible. To delay the completion of the process until 2040 is in the realm of criminal negligence given the seriousness of the climate change predictions.

        1. The current version PTOM is for district and regional councils to get the cheapest contract possible and stuff the environment.

          That is way the GWRC paid $13million to dismantled Wellington trolley bus network.

    3. People just focus on the initial price and costs of fuel but the real kicker is the infrastructure. Hypothetically, if an operator were to get 30 electric buses, then the depot space is an issue. Adding chargers for all these buses would take up more space due to each individual charger – the space required for the 30 buses could probably store 50+ diesel buses. This would result in the need for a larger depot, which is already hard to acquire and thus much higher costs. In addition, the power requirements to charge them overnight for slow charge is already taxing – having 30 of them charging at once would probably have a sizeable effect on the surrounding area. Rumour is that it wasn’t even possible to use the fast charge system for the CityLink EVs due to the massive increase in power draw.
      The upsides for the operator is the lack of road user charges and potentially lower maintenance until the $0000 battery gives up.
      I personally think having all the CityLink (~12) buses be Electric would be a good start but a much larger fleet would raise a few question marks for now.

        1. Thanks, Jason. London’s doing that with a vision of a zero carbon city by 2050. We’re not doing it despite a commitment to zero emissions from the public transport fleet by 2040.

          I wonder if AT is pressuring to get the power infrastructure upgraded to ensure electrification of the whole fleet is possible?

          I’ve done a word search of AT’s Sustainability Framework and while “electric vehicles” comes up, “electricity” and “power” do not. “Infrastructure” comes up 52 times but never in relation to power infrastructure.

          I’m not sure why their framework for becoming sustainable doesn’t have any language about what appears to be a necessary step to achieving an electric public transport fleet.

          Since reducing vkt to reduce carbon emissions isn’t part of AT’s understanding, EV is their only strategy … where’s the practical planning for this?

        2. It’s interesting that the buses are so much cheaper in China. 300K = NZD480K so just over half what we are paying for the bus + charger.

          In Shenzhen their bus fleet is already 100% EV.

          “The investment into electric buses had to be paired with adequate infrastructure. Shenzhen has 510 bus charging stations that have a combined 8,000 charging points, so it can charge just under half the fleet at once.

          At the Qinghu Bus Terminal, with more than 30 charging poles, the assistant manager gave a insight into its capacity:

          “A bus can be fully charged within two hours and the charging poles can serve 300 buses a day,” said Guan Anguang, assistant manager of the terminal.”


  9. From your graphs, it seems that the major cost of the bus is in the actual vehicle itself. Is it possible to buy the bus, but just lease the battery?

    1. You’d still pay one way or the other, in opex if not capital.

      My understanding is the main drawback is that the batteries are a huge component of the cost, but only last four or five years. So over the life of a bus you need to replace the batteries twice over.

      Also important to note that these ‘fuel’ costs ($1.5 to $5.85 an hour) pale in comparison to the cost of drivers, which is something like $30 an hour.

      1. Not sure about those wages – maybe someone can clarify. My understanding (during the strikes) was that wages were in the low $20s.

        1. I’m guessing that the cost paid to drivers and the cost in employing them is the difference ( i.e wages are not only component on the $30)

        2. Yes exactly, the cost of staff to a business is more than just their hourly wage while on the job. Management overheads, staff facilities and equipment, training, certification, sick leave, holiday pay etc all have to be accounted for.

      2. @Nick R, The other big cost avoided ( at the moment) is RUC, a bus pays between 30 and 40 cents per Km, So if you are averaging 20-50 kms per hour that’s between $6 and $20 bucks per hour you save verses a diesel…

        1. Maybe the government needs to firm up that commitment. At the moment there is the risk they could buy a whole lot of electric buses basing the business case off that saving, only for the country to reach 2% electric (which I think it the point where the RUC exemption expires)

  10. If Queen Street becomes pedestrianised, and all the City Link buses are fully electric, then the amount of fuel emissions on Queen Street will become very low (as there will still be emergency vehicles etc).

    BTW, which parts of Queen St are going to be pedestrianised? All the way from K Road to Quay Street? Or just Lower Queen Street?

  11. My god do our buses actually meet some European standard for pollution? What is that standard? Something like: “The bus is only allowed to blow massive amounts of black smoke during 80% of its journey?”

      1. Ha ha ha. Really? We might as well have smoking rules in schools like “if you’re under 15, you can only smoke half a cigarette at a time.”

      2. Yep, that is true and that is the state of our emmisions laws.

        Try and time a 10 second consecutive Hurst, it’s near impossible!

    1. Particulate matter (soot) limits, in grams per kWh, for heavy trucks and buses (i.e. over 3500kg) are as follows:

      Euro I (1992) — 0.36
      Euro IIa (1996) — 0.25
      Euro IIb (1998) — 0.15
      Euro III (2000) — 0.10
      Euro IV (2005) — 0.02
      Euro V (2008) — 0.02
      Euro VI (2013) — 0.01

      Nitrogen oxide (NOx) limits, in grams per kWh, for heavy trucks and buses are as follows:

      Euro I — 8.0
      Euro II — 7.0
      Euro III — 5.0
      Euro IV — 3.5
      Euro V — 2.0
      Euro VI — 0.4

      There are also limits for carbon monoxide and unburnt hydrocarbons.

      1. So 27% of our bus fleet has:
        – particulate matter 10 times the Euro VI standard, and
        – NOx levels 12.5 times the Euro VI standard.

        How do the standards work? Are these buses being tested regularly, or was this what they had to meet when they were manufactured?

        1. And 84% of our fleet has
          – particulate matter twice the Euro VI standard or worse.
          – NOx levels 5 times the Euro VI standard or worse. FFS

        2. Any bus meets those Euro regulations when brand new, but after that, best of luck and God bless.

          It’s up to their owners whose primary concern is to maximise shareholder returns for minimum input, to ensure the engines are kept in perfect tune, made even harder as the motor clicks up the mileage and things wear and oil starts slipping past the valve guides and rings.

          Although diesel engines have improved over the years they are still big dirty oil burners and many an older bus I have seen, not ancient as in they were manufactured in the past 10 years spew out smoke. And that’s what is visible.

          Ironically the PTOM based on a private profit oriented service providers encourages more emmisions, not less!

        3. And having just been in Wellington the loss of the trolley buses means a lot of noisey smokey diesel buses making life unpleasant amongst the high rises. And although the new buses run cleaner tailpipes, you can still smell the wall of burnt diesel .

          And as stated below I am quite skeptical of the battery buses, band aiding environmental issues.

        4. We don’t have ongoing emissions testing in New Zealand, so this is when they are manufactured. Besides, “ultra-low emissions” wood-burners emit 0.137g per kWh of emissions meaning they only meet Euro II!

        5. But those “wood burners” you call out, tend to stay put in your house and don’t drive down Queen St or any other streets spitting foul emissions as they go. And they also only get used for a the winter months. Not continuously day in and day out for years even decades at a time.

          Secondly, most buses were EURO compliant to the stated level only when new, at the time the manufacturer tested it. Given that it is clear now that the manufacturers of diesel engines were gaming the system for quite some time now, taking any buses or diesel powered vehicles EURO compliant number at face value is an exercise in wishful thinking at best. And is more likely in actuality willful collective corporate delusion. AT and NZTA are of course fully compliant with, and acting as cheerleaders for that delusion. Believing that the market will deliver and self-regulate.

          The rule of thumb seen overseas is the worst few % of vehicles in any class are responsible for most (> 80%) of the total emissions. It makes perfect sense to target these relatively extremely polluting dungers and get them off the road as that will make the largest improvement in overall fleet emission, for the smallest incremental change or cost.

          But then as I said before NZTA’s attitude has been that vehicle emissions testing hasn’t been needed ever.

          Hopefully that notion will be buried shortly along with the higher ups in NZTA who were responsible for it – when the true horror of NZTA’s ongoing regulatory failure and outright negligence comes to light in the ongoing inquiry into all NZTA’s functions.

          And in its stead, at last, we will see a science based approach to this and other matters of transport, not the “well I reckon industry knows best” approach NZTA has pushed for a very long time.

      2. It is not unusual to see cars burning oil, poorly tuned diesels and 2-stroke scooters leaving a smoke trail. By the time there is visible pollution the situation is very bad.
        There is no emmissions testing or compulsion to maintain your vehicle to meet a standard. Clearly there should be, we are the only 1st world country that doesn’t.
        Thus there are plenty of examples that could be copied and testing equipment that could be bought. It could be implimented very quickly, 6 months would be plenty of time.
        This is supposed to be a green government, why won’t they act?

        1. Because NZTA continues to tell them its not necessary, and represents and unnecessary burden on industry and up til now thats been taken at face value.

          I expect that soon, that will no longer be the case.

  12. I am not 100% sure battery power is the way to go. Yes it has the feel good factor but production emmisions, environmental problems with all aspects of the battery from beginning to end and the potential emmisions creating the electricity (not all our electricity is renewable) means to me we should be thinking more long term than kicking the can down the road

    Hydrogen is even more remote in terms of practicality I believe.

    Surely an overhead system just like Wellington just disposed of is more practical and overall more environmental?

    1. You have touched on a future issue concerning battery power. Recent battery technology for transport applications is maximising power density for lower weight batteries with maximum duration. These designs often depend on rare earth materials which appear to be a diminishing resource available from very few sources (china being a major source).
      So it will be interesting to see how massive growth in electric vehicles will effect battery supply and recycling.
      Certainly not all applications need high desity compact rare material batteries. These power wall home power battery systems are an example of wasted technology simply to provide a slim wall hung unobtrusive battery when such a static battery requirement could often easily be replaced with lower density cells. Weight is also of little concern and space to floor stanf batteries is an easy alternative to wall hanging.
      Lower denisity cells, more environmentally friendly types such as salt water electrolye designs ( eg aquion) or even traditional NIFE and lead acid.
      These do require regular maintenance, mostly water top up, well within the capabilities of normal people.

        1. You are mistaken too. I am well aware of rare earth elements used in magnets, however I have actually purchased (in NZ) Chinese made LiFeYPo4 Lithium Yttrium high power 400aH cells and the specs also talk of Lanthanum used in electrodes. EG

          If you research some of the more recent high power high density battery designs you will be surprised what elements are included in their chemistries

    2. Waspman – Beijing is doing in what you have said with their trolleybus fleet. Whilst the current fleet can operate using the overhead and have batteries to operate without the need to use any overhead. The new trolleybuses being introduced are more efficient and have the ability to travel further on batteries. The current overhead in the city is being retained to allow for battery recharging.

      Besides Beijing, cities in Europe have a have trolleybus fleets are are looking at or are converting to electric/battery trolleybus operations.

      Wellington’s trolleybus fleet where built of electric/battery operation to allow battery operation on smaller feeder routes that did not have any overhead. Unfortunately, the cost of Lithium-ion batteries where expensive in 2004 when the buses were design, so lead acid batteries where used but could have been converted. The average life of the trolleybuses at the time they where withdrawn was 8 years old.

      Since the withdrawal of the trolleybuses, CO2 levels in Wellington’s CBD has risen due to increase diesel buses movements.

  13. Agreed AT is taking the slowest adaption approach which means people will suffer for pollution and noise for a decade longer.

    Diesel bus are not cheaper to own over the operational life either due to higher running cost.

    Therefore buying diesel bus is a false economy which will cost us more both economically and socially.

    Social benefit can be quite significant, Auckland CBD has been reported to be one of the most polluted and unhealthy in international standard.

    The long term effect of NOX is significant as it can cause serious long term health issue such as lung cancer and breathing allergies.

    Noise and vibration is also another important issue.
    Having no noise and vibration significant improves the passenger experience, which will greatly help the increase in patronage.

    No noise also benefit the surrounding area as the street becomes quieter people would feel more relaxing to walk calmly. The mental benefit would be less depression, anxiety and better mental well-being.

    Better environment would also benefit local shops and cafes as people are more willing to walk on the street as well as to sit outdoor without the issue of noise and pollution caused by pass by buses.

    It is a no brainier and AT should be more ambitious as the social benefit outweigh the initial capital cost.

    Some bus manufacturer provided initial capital funding similar to “hire purchase”. The repayment cost is offset by the saving in operation cost. So at the end it doesn’t cost more to buy and run, yet has all the benefits.

  14. Could it be that the operator tendering process discourages long term thinking/planning? If they don’t expect to be still operating at the same scale a few years out, then maybe the higher up-front costs start to outweigh the long term savings that come with better technology…
    That said, its pretty appalling that we even need to be having this conversation. It might have been mentioned around here before, but if you haven’t heard of it try googling the ‘London Electrobus Company’, and when you’ve finished reading you can weep over what might have been and the usual sheer human stupidity.
    If practical, reliable and economic battery electric buses can be built with Edwardian technology, then a hundred years later we really don’t have any excuses.

  15. Mercedes-Benz has the Citaro rigid single-decker or articulated bus that can operate on either hydrogen or battery.

    The hydrogen rigid bus is available in 2 or 3 axles.

    To have non fossil fuel buses for PT in NZ, there need to be a change in the POTM not to accept the cheapest option but allow to accept contracts for buses that are have very low or no emissions to allow a bus operator to use hydrogen and/or battery buses. This will allow bus operators to look at investing into hydrogen and/or battery buses.

    1. or – that the Council buys the buses and then leases them to the winning operator. The current PTOM system is an abortion.

      In the recent big changeover, NZ Bus lost most of their routes in Wellington and now have excess buses. Meanwhile, Transit, who won the routes but had not enough buses, are madly trying to build new buses. NZ Bus now have depots with unused buses in in the right locations, while Transit are trying to find spare land to park more new buses on.

      Totally dumb.

      1. I totally agree with. The current Wellington shambolic rapid bus network is an expensive waste of money for the region’s rate payers and still hasn’t solved the problems, that the GWRC said was suppose to be plaguing the previous well established bus southern, eastern and western route network.

      2. Totally this.

        AT should simply buy electric buses and then lease them to bus companies. At the same time they should require bus companies to use electic buses for all new contracts. Your move bus companies.

      3. Yet another example of the wasteful use of resources due to the stupidity of the Wgtn Regional Council (Thanks Mr Laidlaw) are the twenty UNUSED Mana buses parked up outside the Paraparaumu Railway station! Some of them are ex-Howick and Eastern buses fom Auckland!

    2. Can someone clarify for me: Does PTOM actually REQUIRE the lowest tender to be accepted, or is this just a GA myth that has become fact by repetition? Frankly, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t already some leeway for AC to consider other factors when awarding contracts.

      1. DavidByrne – Whilst if doesn’t say that district and regional councils has to accept the cheapest contract, it does say the ‘best price’ which in essence means the same.

  16. A 330000$ capital difference is recouped in 20 years with a 4.5$ hourly difference. Plus all the other benefits it would be already a good deal if council looked at the long run

  17. Another problem will be charging power. An electric bus like the BYD K9 with a 300kWh battery will take six hours to charge with your standard 50kW fast charger, so imagine 100 electric buses charging simultaneously! The bus depots will need to uprate their electrical connections massively.

  18. Apparently we only have 11 years to save the planet so bring on the electric buses in preference to building light rail projects that will take 10 years to complete.
    At the same time I would advise the Govt to reverse the regional fuel tax and the national one and cancel the proposed fuel tax increases in 2019 and 2020. Make it quite clear that they will make bus and cycle lanes the priority and while no announced roading project would be scrapped they will only proceed when money becomes available. So stop penalising the poor and live within our means. For those who oppose cycle lanes make it quite clear that they will probably be used by e scooters. In fact we could buy a huge number of e scooters and electric bikes for the cost of a light rail line. For those who must drive there will be congestion but at least the fuel will be cheaper.

    1. Why would you reverse the regional fuel tax?. Where is the money going to come from to upgrade Auckland PT infrastructure.

      The government has already said, that future gold plated 4 lane motorways are out and money will be spent on upgrading the State Highway and regional road networks to be safer and investment in rail and coastal container shipping.

  19. Royce, I am with you. All the money that people save from the reduced petrol tax can be used to try and ameliorate the effects of climate change. I suspect that the government however might need to take all the tax off petrol to have sufficient funds. Is it 2% of GDP that adverse weather events are predicted to cost NZ annually?

    1. What do you mean? Give individuals more freedom in how they ameliorate the effects of climate change? Has that been a good strategy to date?

      1. Well maybe if we stopped using tax as a weapon against climate change we might get a bit of public support. This whole thing of carbon credits has being a complete economic con which has turned everybody off. And as for building more roads that only leads to more congestion both induced but also when the road cones go out the traffic stops. So stop spending on roads and if the road transport society thingee moans offer to put up road user charges to pay for them. But stop charging the poorest members of our society to pay constantly increasing amounts of fuel tax to build more roads which destroy the planet. And focus on converting as many buses both urban and intercity to battery electrics and hydrogen electric as we don’t have time to build light rail or heavy rail projects. Of course money should be put into rail freight facilities. Kawarau, Tokoroa, and Te Kuiti container yards should be the first priority as I have suggested many times on this forum.

        1. Carbon credits was a stupid idea, and leaves people with a skewed idea of how much it costs the earth to emit carbon. Investing in rail is a no-brainer. We need to reduce the number of cars and the space allocated to them. Using our money to build more roads has surely got to become something we can take the authorities to court about at some stage soon.

          But inequity is a result of a skewed economic system. Taxing pollution and emissions via a fuel tax has a place; no one has a right to use the earth’s resources as wastefully as we are doing. Equity needs to be achieved through other means than failing to put the costs of such damaging resource use onto the users.

        2. Do we want more working for families or accommodation supplements they are just a distortion of the economic system.
          The time for light rail has passed we should have done it in 2003 straight after the Britomart station was finished instead we embarked on the 25 year plus CRL project folly.
          Why do you think people are so unresponsive to climate change and so resistant to using public transport. In my opinion the don’t want a lot of eco do gooders telling them what to do and especially taxing them them to pay for their pet projects. Electrifying the bus fleet is a project which most people could agree with and it might be the best project there is to reduce climate emissions. When you ask people about climate change they say bring on the technology not bring on the carbon credits or taxes.
          And what use is light rail to the airport if the airport is under water.

        3. The problem is you’re considering a lack of taxes to be a normal situation. There is nothing normal about a couple of generations using up a huge amount of fossil carbon accumulated over billions of years, and stuffing up the climate as a result. Taxing it to the hilt should have been the normal situation throughout. Such a valuable capital asset of the world should only ever have been used to set up an income stream into the future. Instead it has been used greedily as if it is an income stream itself. This must change.

          We must make society more equitable. And there are plenty of ways to do so. Taxing capital gain, assets, resource use, and providing for all of our people is the best way forward. Refusing to tax resource use is simply allowing people unimpeded and wasteful access to resources.

          There is no right to use fossil carbon. It belongs to all the world, including the future.

        4. I was surprise to read the Kiwirail is open to the idea of hydrogen power locomotives.

          I do agree with you, increasing RUC for the trucking industry to shift bulk freight to rail, especially the EF locomotives are being upgraded.

        5. I still think it is a pity that we didn’t buy those battery assisted EMU’s to do the Papakura to Pukekohe section. It might have given Kiwirail the confidence to purchase electric locomotives with small batteries to enable shunting away from the overheads for the Wuri inland Port to POAL container traffic.
          As for the RUC charges I suggested they should only be introduced if the Road Transport industry wanted them to pay for road upgrades. However fuel tax should not be used to upgrade roads to a greater standard than is required to support car traffic as it would be a subsidy from car drivers to road freight companies.

      2. Heidi, my comment was completely facetious. I don’t think Royce gets that everyone will have to adjust their behaviour by using less fossil fuel if climate change is to be prevented – not just rich people whoever they might be.
        If Royce is saying that the tax system should be adjusted so that wealthier people make a greater contribution to arrest climate change then that is a different proposition.

        “Has that been a good strategy to date?” Nothing has been a good strategy to date, otherwise we wouldn’t have increasing carbon emissions in NZ as we currently have.

        1. Good. I thought I was missing something. 🙂 I’m using your “AT’s (lack of) Achievement of Carbon Emission and Fuel Usage Targets” post at the moment, thanks.

  20. AT is overlooking that fact that when the Government accepts the advice of the Productivity Commission and introduces the law changes it was advised we nned to ensure we move to a low emission transport economy the current “diesel bus” baby will be thrown out the window.

    ProdCom told the Government to implement the multiple carrot and sticks approach with the “feebate” system on all imported vehicles based on their life time pollution profile. So those who import the vehicles that pollute the most pay the highest “fee” [the first stick] and those who import the ones that pollute the least [like electric buses] get the highest rebate [the carrot].

    Once it does then suddenly the economics of those “expensive” electric buses will become massively changed, as they are now well subsidised on import by the [now made more expensive] imported diesel buses. And as new and second hand imports as they all come under the same scheme the second hand bus imports are also hit even harder as the fee to import them will be a much larger portion of their cost.
    As a result the second hand dunger bus import market will likely disappear.

    The vehicle fleet “pollution pendulum” will in turn rapidly swing from the long term encouragement of investment in yet more diesel buses as they wait price parity of electric buses with diesel ones.
    And the swing will instead become a massive swing in the other direction.

    And all those early adopters of electric buses under this scheme will reap the most economic benefit.

    Because the scheme will be designed to run at zero cost to the Government. So the importers pay all the costs of the subsidies handed out.

    So the amount of “subsidy” money available will be determined by the mix of electric and diesel vehicles imported. As it moves to more low emission vehicles, the per-vehicle subsidy will as a direct result, drop [another carrot and stick] relative to the earlier periods of time, when the import mix had fewer no emission buses which received quite higher per-vehicle subsidies in return.

    And as the pool of laggards who continue to import diesel buses shrinks, so will the money available to subsidise the “laggards” who belatedly switch to buying electric buses will also reduce.

    Meaning the early rising electric bus adopters under this scheme will most definitely catch the juciest “feebate” subsidy worms.

    Of course if you don’t also implement emissions testing of existing buses [another stick] and other heavy bvehicles – to force them to remain compliant within their EURO class or be retired, then the bad bus and transport companies will just not buy any new buses or trucks of any kind and instead will keep the old polluters on the road for even longer which is the exact perverse outcome that is to be avoided.

    If the scheme is well designed the present trickle of electric bus fleet replacements will become an absolute torrent, very quickly indeed. Meaning that AT need to plan for Option F which is the same as Option A, except the upward curve starts rapidly, and then continues at pace until a fully electric fleet occurs well before 2040.

  21. Heidi

    There is no right to use fossil carbon. It belongs to all the world, including the future.

    no one has a right to use the earth’s resources as wastefully as we are doing.

    Might is right. This observation has been around since Greek times. It will continue to be valid for eternity.


    that powerful people and countries are able to do whatever they want, especially when you disapprove of this

    those who are powerful can do what they wish unchallenged, even if their action is in fact unjustified.

    having the power to do something gives you the right to do.

    I am not justifying anything just pointing out reality.

    1. In the absence of any Sunday reading here is an example of the kind of rubbish thinking that is confining Auckland public transport to apalling outcomes. It comes from the North Shore Times of 4 December.

      The essence of the article is that bus travellers should be enormously grateful that NZTA is adding about 70m of motorway lane shoulder for buses and that AT is making one turning lane bus only.

      It omits that by extending that turning lane by about 150m it would free up the remainder of the route to the entrance to Akoranga Station. Note that this is the route for all NEX buses travelling north so is extremely vital.

      In a piece of the 21st centuries greatest thinking Cr Derby says, “he was also pushing AT to consider continuing the bus lane along from the top of the the off ramp down to Barrys Point Road, and to make this section a T2 lane as well.”

      (Non locals will be confused. What does a T2 achieve? It frees up the two roads leading to Milford – Fred Thomas and Barrys Point. Forget buses, just an ancillary benefit of any change.)

      And the best piece from Derby, (about the T2) ” it also rewards people in private cars who are using their cars efficiently.” You’re taking the urine, surely?

      And it just gets worse. Cr Derby then wants to screw the bus journey of everyone who travels from Milford and Takapuna, through Takapuna. He is proposing to turn about 2km of the other side of Esmonde from a bus lane to a T2. How is that going to be in any way helpful to encourage bus ridership? (Note that it will be helpful in assisting the car journeys of those who live in and around where the councillor does).

      Sorry Cr Derby, can you understand that when I next hear you talk about better public transport outcomes, I simply won’t believe you.

      P.S. You have lost my vote for next year already, because this article cannot be anything other than blatant electioneering.

  22. Modestly I think this is one of my better contributions. Does anyone think it is worth sending to AT? Does anyone believe that they will even read it? And if they do read it, will anyone care?

    I am more inclined to send it to others who are more concerned about better PT outcomes for Aucklanders.

  23. If not already included in the strategy & AT should require:

    1) a minimum of Euro V (2013) for the 2020-2024 contracts which would address air emissions issues of the older Euro II/III/IV reduce the fleet age to a maximum of approx 7 years at contract at 2020 (& would be max 12 years by 2025 assuming a 5 year contract).

    1. Euro V and VI engines, they require frequent maintenance to maintain their emissions efficiency and completely rebuilt or new engine every 7-8 years making Euro V/VI buses expensive to operate.

      Battery bus motors are cheaper to maintain and have longer operating life but their batteries have a life of 2-3 years before need replacing at approximately $150,000 a go.

      Under the current POTM guidelines, bus operators are very reluctant to invest in new Euro V and VI engined buses. If NZ PT bus fleets need to be low emissions by 2040, the government needs to rewrite to factor in low emissions bus fleets.

      1. Did the POTM itself go through a business case? Did it value air pollution & CO2 emissions values when allowing such old vehicles to operate?

        If it did, it is likely only considered the base year real costs of carbon. NZ analysis didn’t & probably still doesn’t consider future real costs where they differ from base year.

        The real costs of carbon are likely to substantially increase in the future (assuming the world can get its act together). The productivity commission flagged values values as high as NZD250 per tonne (vs about 25 now)

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