Kiwi Bus Builders Managing Director Richard Drummond walking with Climate Change Minister James Shaw next to the skeleton of a bus being built. Photo / Mead Norton
Seated aboard a bright yellow and green electric double-decker bus, Climate Change Minister James Shaw heard about the dreams of two Tauranga men for a trial of an all-electric bus service in the city.
Shaw visited Tauranga’s Kiwi Bus
Builders drop-off Friday, facility tour with company general manager Richard Drummond and Tauranga architect Mark Wassung.
During the visit, Shaw acknowledged that work on revising the rules that regional councils adhered to for public transport was not moving fast enough.
These rules were set out in the public transport operating model, which was being revised.
When asked if there had been any barriers to decarbonization identified, Shaw said there were a ton.
Among them is the fact that the model was written before electric buses existed and that the policies set out in it were based on “different assumptions” than what was needed in 2022.
“The economy of electric buses is quite different from that of diesels.”
It was complex and it took time to “unhook” it, he said.
“My only regret is that things are not moving as fast as anyone would like.”
His visit came after the government announced in the 2022 budget that it would work to accelerate the decarbonisation of public transport.
The main conclusion of Shaw’s visit was that the engineering of the buses produced at the Tauriko company was better than that of some imported transport vehicles.
“It’s one of those great examples of Kiwi innovation that shines out there with the best of them.”
He said given the decision to switch the country’s bus fleet from diesel to electric, it would be “great” if as many as possible were built in Aotearoa.
A variety of electric buses are built at the Kiwi Bus Builders workshop, including those that make up the Wellington fleet.
Drummond and Wassung appeared at Tauranga’s joint public transport committee in June, asking it to consider a trial of all-electric buses in Tauranga, primarily along the Te Papa peninsula.
Drummond and Wassung provided the regional council with the design and quotes for a 23-seater electric bus, as well as solar-powered bus hubs.
Wassung said the design of the bus services was lacking and the hubs helped provide a “pleasant experience” with heating, wifi and light.
The committee recommended that staff review the ideas.
The regional council has set itself the target of increasing the modal share of public transport in Tauranga and Rotorua urban areas during the morning rush to over 5% by 2030, and achieving zero emissions. exhaust in its fleet by 2035.
It was the target year set by the government in its emissions reduction plan, with $40 million over four years budgeted to help suppliers decarbonize.
Shaw said it would help councils buy electric buses, which cost more to buy than diesel buses.
There was an additional $61 million to support a sustainable and skilled workforce of bus drivers.
The plan also required that only zero-emission public transport buses be purchased by 2025.
He said he would help regional councils achieve the desired results with additional funding.
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