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Electric buses on the way

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/04/2016

Electric buses able to operate anywhere in the country could be on our roads by the end of the year.

Wellington's trolley buses will be the first to switch to electric powertrains developed by US company Wrightspeed.

They won't need the overhead cables which Wellington Regional Council says are too expensive to upgrade.

Infratil-owned NZ Bus announced the $US30 million ($NZ43m) breakthrough on Thursday.

"The technology will enable us to repower our trolley buses to enable them to be used anywhere in New Zealand," said NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames.

"Upon successful repowering of the trolleys, the next stage would be the retrofitting of the Wrightspeed powertrains to other selected vehicle types in the fleet."

The first Wrightspeed powertrains will arrive around the middle of this year and the aim is to have the first electric-powered buses on the road before the end of the year.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says its a big step.

"Electric vehicles are the future for New Zealand and not only in our light vehicle fleet," he said.

"It's great that major players like Infratil and NZ Bus are working with international partners and getting ahead of the curve."

The Green Party's transport spokeswoman, Julie Anne Genter, says it's a victory for the environment.

"Electric buses will be excellent for Wellington's air quality and for reducing our contribution to climate pollution," she said.

"It's exactly he kind of transformation decision the government needs to lead on."

Wellington Regional Council voted last June to give the trolley buses three more years before it pulled the plug.

There are 60 trolley buses in a fleet of about 500.

The iconic buses were introduced in 1924 and they run on the main Karori, southern and eastern routes.

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