There were a few double takes on the streets of Wellington as a newly-unveiled double-decker commuter bus made its first official trip around the city.
There were also some double takes among the audience when the bus was officially launched at Parliament.
Other than clipping a few overhanging tree branches, the fully-electric bus made an otherwise uneventful journey around the capital, including a quick trip up the Ngauranga Gorge to prove it had the legs to tackle the city’s steepest hills.
The bus, officially launched by Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters, is one of 10 Tranzit double-decker buses that will be rolled out from July 15 as part of Wellington’s bus network overhaul.
Regional council chairman Chris Laidlaw said the buses were the first battery-powered fleet in New Zealand, and were believed to be the first fully-electric double-deckers in the southern hemisphere. “We’ve set ourselves the target of [having] a 100 per cent electric bus fleet, and the first stop on our way is 10 new double-deckers this year, and 32 by 2021.” The buses were built by Kiwi Bus Builders in Tauranga, with the batteries provided by global company Microvast and the chassis coming from China-based company TEG.
They will be charged overnight at Tranzit’s depot in Rongotai, but can also regenerate battery power when braking. They have a reach of up to 150 kilometres.
Tranzit Group operations director Keven Snelgrove said the launch of the buses was the culmination of 10 years of research.
“We looked at innovation in networks and services in global centres throughout Asia, Europe and North America to select the best technology for Wellington,” he said.
“Our decision was based on performance, reliability and consideration for the environment, without compromise.”