Brand new buses headed for Wellington

  • Published Date 04 May 2017

A fleet of new, modern, more environmentally friendly buses will be hitting the roads in mid-2018 following a competitive tender for bus services in the Wellington region.

Local, family-owned Masterton-based Tranzit Group Ltd is the preferred bidder for eight contracts and Uzabus which is based in Palmerston North, is the preferred partner for the bus contract in Kapiti.

GWRC Chair Chris Laidlaw says the decision is great news for Wellingtonians with significant benefits for ratepayers, taxpayers and bus users.

"We're excited at the prospect of working with Tranzit Group and UZABus to bring a modern bus service to the region and its people. Both are locally-owned family businesses with over 160 years of combined experience in delivering quality services to passengers and drivers," Cr Laidlaw says.

Cr Laidlaw said Tranzit had given Councillors a commitment to employ as many bus drivers as possible from the region's existing workforce.

Tranzit Managing Director Paul Snelgrove says the company will hire another 380 drivers, with as many as possible coming from the Metlink system.

Tranzit would also build 228 new buses, "with as many built by the Kiwi Bus Builders team as it can handle."

UZABus managing director Justin Allan says "the company is delighted to be confirmed as the preferred bidder for the Kapiti Coast area and looks forward to helping the regional council to modernise the bus network."

Both companies will deliver a new, more environmentally friendly bus fleet that will improve air quality across the region and reduce emissions of harmful pollutants by at least 38 percent in Wellington and 84 percent in the Hutt Valley.

Cr Laidlaw said we are likely to see the introduction of electric buses to Wellington city, further improving environmental benefits.

The outcome of the tender is expected to reduce operating costs by several million dollars a year, paving the way for new public transport initiatives such as fare discounts.

Cr Laidlaw acknowledged that today's decision would be disappointing for those companies that were unsuccessful but today's decision would start to provide certainty.

"We'd like to thank everyone who bid and to remind people that we will still be working closely with our other incumbent providers, who will continue to make up over 30 percent of the market."

The announcement of the preferred partners for these nine contracts is another step in the long-term transformation of the region's public transportation system.

"Over the next year, we will be announcing new routes, measures to reduce congestion and how we're making the passenger experience more seamless."

Timetables remain the same for now, with new buses and routes scheduled to be introduced in mid-2018.


Nick Robinson: 021 083 32955


GWRC Public Transport plan – background information

Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) is actively implementing its strategy to improve public transport for the 500,000 Wellington residents who make approximately 36 million journeys by bus, rail or ferry each year.

The bus tender process has shown the efficacy of the Government's Public Transport Operating Model. There were several objectives for the process, including promoting competition and growing confidence that services are provided efficiently. We received 86 tenders from nine tenderers (including several international operators), resulting in a competitive process that provided the best outcomes for ratepayers.

This decision is one of the first steps in a five-year plan to provide an integrated public transport network that users find simple, connected and consistent.

GWRC consulted communities in 2012 and 2014 about improvements to the current bus network. After receiving over 6,000 submissions, it found the current network has overlapping, low-frequency bus routes with few weekend and evening services. This resulted in an overhaul of the network design to reduce duplication and congestion and increase the frequency of services, with changes to be implemented by mid-2018.

By the middle of next year, Wellingtonians can look forward to a bus network that provides more services for more people.

The fleet provided by the two preferred tenderers (Tranzit Group and UZABus) will be 100% new, wheelchair-accessible buses. Those that travel down the "Golden Mile" on Lambton Quay will have the chance to ride on new double-decker buses, introduced by the Council in a bid to reduce congestion and improve travel times. There will be one, integrated ticket system on buses to help get people where they want to go at the times they want to travel.

The tender process is another step in achieving GWRC's plans to build a public transport network that is easier, faster and safer.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the preferred tenderers?

The tender process identified Tranzit Group Ltd as the preferred bidder for eight contracts in the Wellington region, and UZABus as preferred bidder for a contract to deliver bus services on the Kapiti Coast. Both companies are locally-owned, family businesses with a proven record of running public transport.

Tranzit Group was founded in 1924 and is a fourth-generation transport and tourism company operating over 1000 vehicles and employing a team of over 1000 nationwide and already runs GWRC's Wairarapa services.

UZABus is based in Palmerston North and was established in 1948. It already runs GWRC's Otaki service and also delivers services to the Bay of Plenty and Horizons Regional Councils. UZABus has an existing fleet of 280 buses.

What will be the market share of each provider, when the process is complete?

Once negotiation is complete, Tranzit will hold 60% of the market and UZABus will hold 6%. The remaining market share will be held by the incumbent providers, NZ Bus (28%) and Mana (6%). 

What was the criteria for the tender process?

Tenders were assessed on a combination of price and quality. The process considered many aspects of the service, including track record, employee welfare, customer service performance and the emissions profile of the fleets offered by tenderers. The outcome will deliver value for money for ratepayers, taxpayers and fare payers.

How many tenders were received?

Greater Wellington Regional Council received 86 bids from nine tenderers, including several international operators. It was a highly competitive and robust process. GWRC believes it is important to promote competition in public transport, which leads to value for money outcomes for ratepayers and taxpayers. We are pleased with the outcomes that we have secured for ratepayers and look forward to negotiating with the preferred tenderers.

Who ran the tendering process?

The GWRC ran a rigorous, international best-practice tender process, involving both internal and external advisors. The process was developed with assistance from the New Zealand Transport Agency and a range of appropriately qualified and experienced external advisors including:

  • Deloitte - financial and commercial
  • DLA Piper - legal
  • Robert Buchanan - probity
  • Emission Impossible - vehicle emissions.

Membership of the Tender Evaluation Team was carefully selected to provide a balance of independence, critical thinking, subject matter expertise, internal knowledge and external viewpoints.

This was an incredibly complex tender process, involving 86 separate bids from 9 tenderers, including international suppliers.

Council was briefed and consulted through a series of workshops, committee and Council meetings throughout the procurement and RFT development process.

Is it likely bus drivers will lose their jobs because of this tender process?

The preferred bidders have given a commitment to employ as many bus drivers as possible from the region's existing workforce, which means working with other incumbent operators who did not win contracts in the tender process.

Will these buses reduce emissions of harmful pollutants?

Both preferred tenderers have committed to supplying all routes with brand new buses, fitted with the latest technology to reduce harmful pollutants. This technology will significantly reduce emissions of the most harmful diesel pollutants NOx and PM10. There will be a 38% reduction in harmful pollutants in Wellington city and an 84% reduction in the Hutt Valley when compared against the existing fleet operating in these areas.

How does this decision benefit public transport users?

This is the first stage in a five year plan to build a public transport network that is simple, connected and easy to use for users. While this decision doesn't change anything for users heading home on public transport tonight, by mid-2018 Wellingtonians can look forward to a network that provides more services for more people. We expect these providers to have a fleet of entirely new buses that will all be wheelchair accessible. There will be one integrated ticket system on buses and we plan to introduce double decker buses to cut down on congestion on high-frequency routes, such as the Golden Mile down Lambton Quay. 

How does this decision relate to the future of Trolley buses in Wellington?

The decommissioning of the trolley buses is a separate process that will be completed in October this year.

Development and testing continues by NZ Bus on the development of a plug-in range extended electric bus that will re-use and refurbish the trolley bus fleet.

GWRC and NZ Bus have detailed transition plans in place to ensure that bus services continue to run during the transition from trolley buses to the new converted fleet, which may require the use of diesel buses until the conversion programme is complete.

How many EuroV  and EuroV1 buses?

The Preferred Tender Outcome will bring 228 new EuroV1 buses and 22 EuroV buses to the routes covered by the tender.

We do not yet know what the makeup of the fleet will be for the remaining Direct Appointed Units, but per the rules of our procurement, at least half of these must be EuroV or better.


Updated April 28, 2022 at 3:02 PM

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