Tauranga company wins bus building contract
A Tauranga bus company is set to increase its workload substantially following the signing of a contract which will see more electric buses take to the streets of Wellington.
Kiwi Bus Builders will be building 31 double decker EVs enabling Metlink to boost their fleet of electric buses from two to 22 per cent, helping it meet climate change goals and passenger growth.
Kiwi Bus Builders managing director Richard Drummond says up to an additional 30 staff will be brought on as the project develops and comes at a critical time after COVID-19.
“This is really great news. It continues the joint accomplishments already achieved between Kiwi Bus Builders and Tranzit and gives us a strong foundation and opportunity to build back up,” says Richard.
“It also enables us to continue our world leading research and development projects we’ve previously worked on.”
The ink has dried on contracts for 98 new electric buses, which will take Metlink’s fleet of electric buses to 108, significantly reducing its carbon footprint and taking Greater Wellington a step closer on its target of carbon neutrality by 2030.
Metlink currently has 450 buses in its active fleet in the Wellington region 10 of which are EVs, making up two percent of the fleet. Once the 98 buses are added to the fleet the proportion of EVs will rise to 22 per cent which, excluding market leader China, is high by international standards.
Seventy-three of the buses will be used on current scheduled services with a further 25 to be progressively added to routes to meet future network growth. The new electric buses will eventually take 61 diesel buses off the roads, leading to a 17 per cent drop in carbon emissions and a similar reduction in harmful emissions.
Greater Wellington is delivering on its promise of a building a modern low emission bus network according to Chair Daran Ponter.
“I’m sure that people across the region will be pleased to see another 61 diesel buses taken off the road and this will drive real climate benefits by deploying the new electric buses on high use areas of the network,” says Daran.
“Just like our plans for rail, this is also about ensuring we have a fleet in place that can cope with rising population trends and demand for public transport over the next few years. That’s why 25 buses will be used to accommodate forecast passenger growth without an increase in emissions.”
From left to right: Daran Ponter – Chair, Regional Council; Keven Snelgrove – Tranzit; Brendan Prince – NZBus; James Howard – Tranzit; David Lee and Roger Blakeley – Regional Council.
Climate Committee chair Thomas Nash said we have to provide attractive alternatives to our current 20th century car culture if we’re serious about responding to climate change.
“Over the last two decades transport emissions rose by 14 per cent across the region, mainly from fossil fuel burning cars and trucks,” says Thomas.
“We need a real step change here and we know we can move far more people with far fewer vehicles if we provide high quality public transport. A modern, comfortable low emission fleet will play a key role in attracting new passengers, encouraging them to embrace public transport. We’ve got an opportunity to break free from the car-dominated landscape that’s been driving pollution in our cities - let’s take it.”
Roger Blakeley, chair of Greater Wellington’s Transport Committee, says that the new fleet will also attract more bus drivers to the region.
“This new fleet shows our intentions for growing the network and obviously more buses means more drivers. We want buses that drivers can be proud of and these state of the art buses, many fitted out right here in New Zealand, will help us attract drivers that want to be at the forefront of the public transport industry in New Zealand and internationally.”
As part of the deal, NZ Bus will source 67 ready-to-go large single decker EVs from China and Tranzurban will build 31 double decker EVs at Kiwi Bus Builders in Tauranga, with parts sourced from world leading Chinese bus manufacturers.
NZ Bus CEO Barry Hinkley said he was delighted that NZ Bus was making a significant contribution to NZ’s environmental performance, commenting that growing the number of EVs in its fleet is the right way forward as NZ Bus looks to a future of reduced fossil fuel usage.
"With these 67 new electric buses, NZ Bus is proud to be having the largest EV bus fleet in New Zealand. With these new orders, we will see our EV fleet grow to at least 85 buses in the short term,” says Barry.
"Obviously, we all should try and do as much as we can to look after our environment; taking public transport is a great way of reducing emissions, and electric public transport is an even better way.
“We’re committed to doing our bit to help reduce emissions in New Zealand and at the same time provide people with a safe and easy way to get around.”
Tranzurban Director Keven Snelgrove says the announcement is a clear demonstration of the company’s commitment to partnering with Greater Wellington and pioneering and investing in electric bus technology and infrastructure in New Zealand.
He says the 31 new double deck EVs add to the company’s fleet of 10 New Zealand-built double deck EVs successfully in operation in Wellington already.
“Earlier this month our EV double deck fleet travelled over 2000km in a single day meaning we saved approximately over 1300 litres of diesel and prevented around 3.54 tonnes of CO2 entering Wellington’s atmosphere in a single day. If we are to extrapolate these figures over a total fleet of 41 EV double decks per annum, then the environmental benefits will be significant,” says Keven.
“This new fleet will deliver multiple benefits of being New Zealand built, adding to our modern and reliable electric bus fleet and help reduce carbon emissions and air pollution for Wellingtonians.”
The buses will be delivered between mid-2021 and early 2023.