Re: Epitaph for Wellington

The Tallinn video that I posted above is instructive as it shows the result
of full, impartial professional analysis of possible solutions, rather than
political whim. Tallinn, as their engineer said, literally can't afford to
get it wrong. Other European countries are finding the same - that
trolleybuses are the most cost-effective and reliable mode for bus
transportation. Australia and NZ, as wealthy countries, are far more likely
to throw money around without a proper professional process and it's money
that, as they say, could be better spent on other transport projects,
schools and hospitals. Australia also has the type of local politicians you
have in NZ. One or two of them get a bee in their bonnet about some
"solution" that's been paraded in front of them by salesmen and, if they
have the political weight, the whole caravan starts rolling over any
questioning and opposition. This is why we're getting those big battery
buses in Brisbane instead of the trams they should have chosen.

From the same author, watch this video about the pros and cons of battery
vs trolley (and battery trolley buses):

The picture that has emerged after about a decade of operating both types
together around the world is that straight battery buses are OK for minor
routes, but for heavy duty, high capacity work, trams and trolleybuses are
superior. So battery bus uptake hasn't been so strong in cities that
already have tram and trolleybus systems. They've only generally been taken
up in smaller cities, or in large cities where there is a metro or tram
system doing the heavy lifting. Of course, still in the background for some
years to come, there are large diesel fleets doing the lion's share of the
work (in Wellington too I believe). The really noteworthy fact is that
nobody is abandoning trolleybus systems (except notably Wellington and
Moscow, in both cases at the whim of local politicians), but instead
expanding them and building new systems. Even China - which sells battery
buses around the world, including to New Xiland - is keeping its trolley
systems, notably the huge Beijing system.

As for Australia, we've had battery buses in passenger service in Sydney
since 2016 and there are now over 150 of them in this city alone.
Personally, I've used both trolleybuses (in Europe in recent years and in
Tasmania many years ago) and the modern battery buses now in service.
What's obvious with the battery buses is their markedly reduced passenger
capacity (from over 80 to about 60) as a result of the weight of the
batteries on board, a factor that trolleybuses (even battery trolleybuses
with only a small battery pack) don't have to contend with. Combined with
the issue of downtime for charging, that means that more battery buses (and
drivers) are required to accomplish the same level of productivity as
diesel or trolley buses. Battery buses come at a big cost, but it seems
that NZ is wealthy enough to support that?

Tony P

On Saturday 30 March 2024 at 11:37:57 UTC+11 Brent Efford wrote:

> But the reality is that Wellington’s trolleybus overhead network was not

> an “asset’ but a liability, greatly constraining bus operations and

> reducing bus performance. Freed from wire dependency, several new bus

> routes, many electric, have been introduced. Including the #25 past my gate

> – covering the old #9 trolley route plus big extensions which I regularly

> use. Plus the trolley fleet – cobbled together with critical parts already

> second-hand – was already expiring, down to about 30 active vehicles in

> 2017 from its original size of 60.

> Expenditure on trolleys actually reduced bus electrification because the

> overwhelming majority of the fleet was diesel and there was no way that any

> substantial replacement of diesels by trolleys could occur. Spending the

> many millions required for overhead and substation refurbishment on

> bridging the cost difference between BEBs and diesels instead will

> (eventually) enable a 100% electric fleet that will perform far better and

> range further than trolleys could ever manage. What’s not to like (unless

> you are a gunzel with a wire fetish)?

> Brent Efford


> On 30/03/2024, at 12:55 PM, Mark Skinner eme...@...> wrote:


> I think the point is that economically it's usually far better to utilise

> assets to the end of their economic life.


> Obviously, one reason is it's less costly, the other is that electric bus

> technology is still improving.


> That means that if those new buses had been delayed until say 2029, it's

> almost certain they'd be cheaper and more efficient.


> So, sure, if Wellington's trolleybuses had been at the end of their

> economic life, electric buses would have been a valid option.


> An alternative could have been to keep the trolleybuses till they had to

> be replaced, use the capital money saved to build trams from the railway

> station, then buy better in 2029 or whenever those assets expired.


> Having a tramway plus more modern buses for the same money seems a better

> outcome.


> Not only that, but options involving mixed battery and trolleybus

> operation provide huge flexibility without the need for overhead wires in

> sensitive areas.


> Mark Skinner


> On Sat, 30 Mar 2024, 10:26 am 'Brent Efford' via TramsDownUnder, <

>tramsdo...@...> wrote:


>> Truly risible, Tony. It appears that battery electric buses have yet to

>> be introduced in Australia, and so you have no actual experience. I suggest

>> you visit Wellington sometime and experience our growing electric bus

>> system – far larger, better performing and more reliable than anything the

>> old trolleybus system could ever aspire to. I once thought and argued as

>> you do, before the battery buses were introduced, but on the spot user

>> experience beats gunzel nostalgia every time.

>> Other, smaller, New Zealand cities have already achieved 100% electric

>> fleets, which we expect to get to about 2030. Do you suggest that they

>> should have wired their bus routes instead?

>> Brent Efford


>> On Saturday, March 30, 2024 at 1:46:08 AM UTC+13 TP wrote:


>>> The decision to close Wellington's trolleybus system is obviously going

>>> to live on as a lesson around the world. The author of this excellent

>>> transport channel covers all the issues well. Talking of costs, ironically

>>> Wellington got rid of a system that had the lowest whole-of-life costs of

>>> any electric transit system and replaced it with one (battery buses) with

>>> higher costs and less reliability. If only they'd made that modest

>>> investment in maintaining the infrastructure over the years, they would

>>> have saved themselves a lot more cost later.




>>> Here, by contrast, from the same author, an interview about how the city

>>> of Tallinn, Estonia, decided to keep and expand their trolleybus system

>>> instead of close it. Note the comment that trolleybus substations can be

>>> used by a future tram system if required (vice versa also applies, e.g. in

>>> Prague).




>>> Tony P



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