Thursday July 12, 2018
Group ReVolts against ‘wilfully misleading’ regional council By Jamie Adams
Opponents of Wellington’s new bus regime say the new electric fleet is a fragment of what the city used to have. A group called ReVolt was established to argue that Greater Wellington’s much-touted battery buses paper over health and environmental problems that have worsened since trolley buses were decommissioned. They say Wellington faces an indefinite period of mostly diesel buses on our streets, including on those that used to service trolley buses, as the Metlink-branded new double deckers will make up less than 10 percent of the regional fleet by 2021, and less than half the number of trolley buses that existed before November 2017. While Tranzit’s new diesel buses have engines that are of Euro 6 standard, ReVolt says that noise and pollution from interim buses have driven them crazy. Seatoun resident and ReVolt founder Herwin Bongers says he has had to soundproof his house due to the regular increase in noise from idling by buses at a stop across from it, ever since diesels began operating on his Hector Street route. “Fifty-four decibels is enough to make people want to leave their homes – 63 decibels is the average level when buses are parked here. It peaks at 78.” Herwin says a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report has shown that for every extra decibel in average noise in an area there is a 1.2 percent drop in property prices. “We got a five-decibel rise since the buses came here.” Hataitai’s Ray Henkel says the
Neil Douglas, Keith Flinders, Ray Henkel and Peter Steven of ReVolt are displeased with the new influx of diesel buses on Wellington’s streets. PHOTO: Jamie Adams
noise of diesel buses on Moxham Avenue can be unbearable overnight. “The noise can start at 5.45am and go till as late as 2.30am at times.” Cyclist Peter Steven says it’s the pollution that really annoys him. “I start down Adelaide Road then when I veer off onto a narrow street I’m stuck behind them.” Gillian Tompsett was “astonished” there was no plan to bring electric buses on the East-West route. “One councillor told me we won’t be getting them for 10-12 years. “We heard all the news about them coming but there was no notification about the increase in noise. The impact of noise was noticeable from day one.” “They have been wilfully misleading,” Herwin says. Thorndon resident Neil Douglas says the situation was the result of the council’s failed
experiment with trying to install Wrightspeed hybrid batteries in its previous fleet. He believes instead of an estimated $1.5 billion light rail system, it would cost only $100 million if Greater Wellington was to bring back the trolley wires that could power new lithium batteries in the old buses for off-wire use, rather than possibly sending them to Tauranga. Greater Wellington chairman Chris Laidlaw admits it would take “decades” for the bus fleet to become 100 percent electric, but cost was an underlying factor in the slow process, as well as the decision to remove the “inflexible” trolley buses. “However costs are coming down all the time. I’m hopeful that the government and councils can speed up the process with more funding.” Metlink spokesman Alan Seay says the “vast majority” of services across the region have
always been diesel. “For example, in the year to September 2017, 63 percent of services in Seatoun were provided by diesel buses – and that was when the trolley buses were operating. “Additionally, over this period, only one in 10 buses operating in Seatoun at night were trolley buses.” He says some routes, such as to Karori and Seatoun, will miss out on the double deckers because their height means they cannot go through their tunnels. While Alan rules out any return of the trolley wires, he says NZ Bus has been testing electric drive trains on existing trolley bus chassis with one such bus now in operational service. “We are in discussions with NZ Bus about the cost and timing of the conversion of the remainder of the trolley fleet. We would expect that the EastWest spine would be where they would play a major role.”
L O S
inbrief news Pints for Pooches returns In 2016 Garage Project & Golding’s Free Dive held a massively successful fundraiser for the SPCA; and after a hiatus last year it is being brought back for 2018 in expanded form. On Saturday, July 14 six kegs will be donated to six bars in Wellington, this time with six kegs also being donated to six venues in Auckland. Dog owners are encouraged to take their dogs for walkies to Garage Project 91 Aro, Golding’s Free Dive, Husk, Heyday, LBQ or Rogue & Vagabond and make a donation by buying a pint. All proceeds from the kegs will go directly to the SPCA.
Students take on Latin America
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Three Wellington students have been selected for one of three overseas business field trips to Latin America later this year. Nimue Strivens (Wa Ora Montessori), Kevin Li (Onslow College), and Caleb Carrasco (St. Bernard’s College) are among 24 Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) students selected to travel to Latin America after successfully competing at the Entrepreneurs in Action (EIA) business competition. The overseas trips are part of a partnership between YES and the Latin America Centre for Asia Pacific Excellence (CAPE), designed to give these young Kiwis a deeper knowledge of Latin America and a variety of New Zealand businesses operating there.
Matariki fireworks postponed The Matariki Sky Show has been postponed to this Saturday (rain day being Sunday) – primarily due to the presence of the southern right whale in Wellington Harbour last week. Wellington’s acting Mayor, Jill Day, says the postponement call was made following advice from the Department of Conservation and mana whenua and concerns over the safety of boaties among the whale. She says the Council will talk to interested parties – including the Harbourmaster, iwi and police – about how to deal with the situation if the whale is still in the harbour this weekend.
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Cook Strait News 12-07-18