Wellington trolleys to go

June 30th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

It’s a familiar commuter nightmare for Wellingtonians: your trolley bus becomes detached from its overhead line, and you and everyone in the behind you are stuck while the driver gets out and hooks it up again. All that is about to end with the demise of the trolleys in 2017 – but not everyone is happy about the decision to scrap them.

They are expected to be almost five minutes faster during your morning commute and 10 minutes quicker when the roads have cleared at night.

They should leave you breathing air that is almost 40 per cent cleaner in just three short years, and be comfortable, modern, reliable and less of a drain on your pocket as a ratepayer.

They are hybrid diesel-electric buses – and after a near-unanimous vote by Greater Regional Council on Thursday, they are now the future of in .

Like most Wellingtonians I have an emotional attachment to the trolleys, but the decision is a sensible one.

21 Responses to “Wellington trolleys to go”

  1. iMP (2,665 comments) says:

    Makes sense, the overhead wires are ugly. Meanwhile, in Chch our trams are looking fabulous in a san francisco kinda way.

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  2. Manolo (21,979 comments) says:

    But Sue Kedgley is against it. The Luddite, who only travels by luxury car, says this is a crime against Gaia.

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  3. alwyn (509 comments) says:

    I can only assume that if you have ” an emotional attachment to the trolleys” you don’t actually use them.
    They are slow and prone to breakdowns. I live in Karori which is served by trolleys during the week and by diesels at the weekend. The service is terrible during the week and the sooner the dinosaur trolleys go the better.
    “Not that I am biased of course”, in the words of that Welsh stand-up comedian: Max Boyce was it?

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  4. jackinabox (781 comments) says:

    Has peak oil been reached yet? Just askin.

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  5. Monty (941 comments) says:

    Oh for God’s sake.
    The trolley buses cost 6 x per km to operate over the traditional buses. The overhead wires are an eyesore. The buses are forever breaking down. Remind me why anyone likes them

    I say good riddance

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  6. wikiriwhis business (5,174 comments) says:

    In the 19th century they would have been thought of as state of the art. We finally getting rid of them in 2014!!

    Reminds us we only two small islands with grand dreams in the global village. The global village will suck us up and spit us out.

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  7. goldnkiwi (2,717 comments) says:

    Monty (959 comments) says:

    June 30th, 2014 at 10:39 am


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  8. David Garrett (10,972 comments) says:

    Jackass: well since you are “just askin”..NO…and with the enhanced recovery techniques developed in the last few years (Yes, the dreaded “fracking”) making shale oil economically recoverable, you are going to have to wait until your grandkids are old – and I am pretty sure you yourself are a mere stripling – before the world needs to start thinking about running out of oil…Of course by that time we will no longer be using it as a fuel, but rather for the myriad other things upon which aspects of modern life rely on petroleum…

    FWIW I think the trolley buses are a great idea…if only because they are very quiet and don’t smell…but apparently the cost of upgrading the infrastructure – other than the wires – means it is uneconomic to do so…but just as those with a few clues have predicted, technology has come to the rescue…these hybrids sound something like the best of both worlds..

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  9. ROJ (228 comments) says:


    Have you considered the remote possibility that there are more cars on the road on weekdays?

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  10. Peter (2,093 comments) says:

    The flyboy in the Greens is also against it.

    No doubt he takes taxis.

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  11. Grendel (1,064 comments) says:

    oh no! this means the green mps have only 3 years to maybe get around to taking the buses they like so much, if they have time and are not too busy and don’t need quicker transport.

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  12. alwyn (509 comments) says:

    ROJ @ 11.48am
    Until about 9.00am there are more cars around during the week than at the weekends.
    After that I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more cars around on Saturday and Sunday, at least on the main road through Karori.

    The advantage in travel time of Diesels over Trolleys is there even when both are running at the same time though. It doesn’t depend on the Trolleys being there when there is heavy traffic and the Diesels when traffic is light.
    According to the Council the diesel buses are 5 minutes faster during the morning commute and 10 minutes faster when traffic is lighter. That is comparing them when the other traffic on the road is the same for both types.

    So, no. The diesels are always faster.


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  13. RRM (12,550 comments) says:

    Should politicians who’ve never been in jail, get to have a say about how jails should be built or operated? 😉

    The trolley buses were no doubt a great idea once, but their time has now passed.

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  14. Bingo99 (167 comments) says:

    Ah the trolleys – of course Kedgley is opposed to their removal – her simplistic brain thinks electric = good, diesel (or even hybrid!) = bad. Of course she never uses the damn things. And Fulljames from Infratil is only moaning because they took a punt on upgrading the current fleet and they’re not going to maximize that wonky investment decision (Infratil being a pretty lousy company – yo Snapper! And a shoutout to Manston and Prestwick Airports)

    They can’t overtake each other, meaning they’re about as practical as trains but with about a tenth the capacity. If, as they do often, the break down, diesels can overtake, but not the other damn trolley buses behind. Of course, there are parts of Lambton where a trolley breakdown clogs the entire system because it reduces to one lane or the sheer number of immovable trolleys pile up so much so that diesels can’t overtake anymore.

    No one cared when they took them away on weekends. No one will care when they’re off the roads for good.

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  15. jackinabox (781 comments) says:

    Is this film a load of bullshit David Garret? Just askin.


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  16. Mark (1,611 comments) says:

    I live and work in Wellington. I use the buses to get around the city during the day as the system is efficient and inexpensive. I am not at all attached to the trolleybuses am happy to see them replaced. If it is a hybrid or electric vehicle all the better but I will not be unhappy to see the overhead wires disappear from the cityscape.

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  17. jackinabox (781 comments) says:

    Sounds good to me. Charge em up at night via hydro or geo and bobs your uncle.

    The EcoSmart bus produces no emissions, operates for a full shift without direct recharging and captures energy traditionally lost during braking, returning it to the batteries.
    No proprietary charging infrastructure is required.
    EcoSmart can be produced in 30, 35 and 42 foot versions.
    All accessories are electrically driven, reducing energy losses and increasing reliability.

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  18. Gulag1917 (1,642 comments) says:

    There is wireless electricity which buses can use. Diesel electric hybrids are not too reliable at this stage so expect lots of breakdowns. Rough bus drivers aggravate the problem.

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  19. Left Right and Centre (4,389 comments) says:

    Just for fun . . . (you remember fun, right ?)

    Those cute little light rail two or four car sets. Out of Wellington’s price range I know.

    Routes that might actually work in terms of passenger numbers. Anything from Karori. Anything to the airport.

    Karori to airport via (1) Vic Uni / Massey and / or (2) CBD classic route.

    Central Station via Courtenay / Newtown / Kilbirnie / airport.

    As for the trolleys . . . emotionally attached ? Maybe. Try driving one. Emotionally deranged.

    ROJ: Traffic was shit on weekends. At least on a weekday everything was stuck doing 5km/h at peak times – trolley or not. On weekends you’d spend a lot of time trying to get back into relentless all day traffic from a bus stop. The traffic light phases were worse. Lots of passengers but across whole day not just peak times. I used to take about $40-120 in cash fares on my weekday shift – on the weekend it could be $300-350 or something.

    Bingo99 is right on to it. Bingo indeed. As a note – sometime around the late 80s the whole wire was changed. In places like Lower Cuba St there used to be crossovers with parallel wires so one trolley could work the switch and get past one in front.

    I swear I had a dream where I passed a brown lady driving some type of AEC Reliance – facing down the Terrace on the wrong side and up on footpath next to the dairy at Salamanca. Dreams are weird.

    You know you’ve been in Wellington a loooooong long time when . . .

    (1) There’s a new ferry. (2) They get new trains and the English units go. (3) Trolley buses go.

    And even longer when . . . (1) The Canes win a title. (2) Big mofo earthquake that makes chch look like a wee wobble.

    Well – you’re not likely to get the double beef and bacon whopper in your lifetime but you never know.

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  20. mikenmild (23,546 comments) says:

    ‘The Canes win a title.’
    Much as I am a fan, I don’t think it will ever happen.

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  21. Gulag1917 (1,642 comments) says:


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