EECA grant puts Metlink at forefront of drive to sustainable public transport
The conversion of more than 50 former Wellington trolley buses to battery power will put Metlink among world leaders in the shift to zero-carbon public transport, says Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw.
Mr Laidlaw welcomed today’s announcement by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, EECA, to provide a $763,000 grant to convert the city’s former trolley buses to battery power, calling it a powerful endorsement of the council’s pledge of a 100 percent electric public transport fleet.
“We are proud of leading the way in making this happen. The conversion of these buses to battery power marks a significant milestone in the strategy to shift our public transport away from fossil fuels and towards a sustainable future. And what makes this a truly unique story is that the electricity will be largely generated from the city and region’s best-known characteristic – its wind.”
Mr Laidlaw says Wellington city could be one of very few – and possibly the only – city in the world which had a public transport fleet powered by renewable electricity generated within its own boundaries.
“This decision is a major step towards the vision of a 100 percent electric public transport fleet. Indeed it is difficult to think of a more compelling example of a city and region taking meaningful steps to reduce its transport emissions.”
The grant is the largest of the $4m in grants from EECA in its latest round of subsidies to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.
The money will be used by bus operator NZ Bus to install fast-charging stations for its former trolley buses at its Karori and Kilbirnie depots. With fast charging, the project will deliver lower emissions while avoiding peak electricity prices and distribution network congestion.
The converted trolley electric buses are expected to be on the road from January 2019.
“It was always our ambition to re-purpose these trolley buses and teach them some new tricks. The fact that they don’t need overhead wires makes them a lot more versatile and resilient than they were in their former role.
“Together with the newly-introduced double-decker electric buses, they will build on a journey that we have only just started.
“We welcome this grant from EECA as a strong endorsement of our decision to move towards an all-electric public transport fleet. This is a great addition to Wellington’s growing international image of being a creative and future-focussed city and region,” Mr Laidlaw said.