Trolley buses in doubt
Wellington could lose its iconic inner city trolley buses. The Greater Wellington regional council says that the future of Wellington's trolley bus network is in doubt following the refusal of Land Transport NZ to provide additional funding for the upgrade and maintenance of the system, and advice of increased costs from Vector.
"Land Transport NZ has advised us that they will provide funding for trolley buses to the equivalent of 50 percent of the cost of a diesel bus," says councillor Glen Evans, chairman of council's Passenger Transport Committee.
"Added to that, Vector, the owners of the substations that feed the lines system, recently advised Stagecoach that there are significant costs to bring the infrastructure back up to a reliable standard."
"Together these costs mean that running the trolley bus network would be $2.5 million more than the cost of running an equivalent diesel system.
"About $1.5 million of these costs have already been built into our LTCCP (10-year plan), so the further cost to ratepayers would be in the order of $1 million, which is equivalent to about two percent extra on total rates."
Mr Evans says it was necessary to refurbish the old trolley buses and do additional maintenance to the network to keep the system running.
"Like the rail network, that was allowed to run down through lack of investment, we are now catching up on deferred maintenance and much needed improvements.
"If we don't make this investment it is likely the trolley bus network will go."
Mr Evans says that if the funding impasse with Land Transport NZ cannot be resolved Greater Wellington will have to consider its options.
"One option will be to undertake a full consultation with the public to provide them will all the information about the options available, and their costs. The regional council will consider this issue when it confirms its LTCCP on June 1."
The Green Party has indicated it plans to start a petition to save the trolley buses.