Electric buses coming to Christchurch

Red Bus will introduce what they believe is New Zealand’s first fully electric urban bus service to Christchurch early next year.

This follows the signing of a deal to purchase three electric buses as part of its commitment to gradually introducing new innovative technology across Christchurch public transport services.

The new buses, which will be delivered by next March, will be used on the direct service route 29 between the CBD and Christchurch Airport which carries more than 200,000 passengers annually.

Red Bus chief executive Paul McNoe says this route between the city centre and the airport is ideal for the fully-battery electric -powered ADL/BYD buses that will be permanent replacements for three diesel buses to expose this cutting edge technology and commitment to sustainability to Christchurch visitors and residents.

“Based on current use of a similar electric bus design in Sydney, Canberra, London and China we’ll be able to use them all day on the airport service without needing a re-charge.”

McNoe says “using electric buses on the airport service achieves 4 objectives simultaneously; an improvement of customer service through lower internal and external noise levels, the immediate and long term reduction in local exhaust emissions, reduced carbon consumption for this service and the opportunity to demonstrate the latest vehicle technology to our Christchurch residents”.

“We are expecting immediate environmental and health benefits from these battery electric powered buses. The zero tailpipe emissions reduces our annual carbon footprint by 5% or 290 tonnes with reduced noise levels inside and outside the buses. The reduced noise levels improve the service for passengers and residents alike”.

Paul McNoe, Chief Executive, Red Bus

The introduction of the buses also supports the Government’s commitment to reach its 2050 emissions reduction target. Red Bus is committed to using renewable energy sources and assisting with New Zealand’s contribution to climate change.

Red Bus is interested in the potential for wider use of electric buses and will be testing the new buses on other routes - including Christchurch’s hill suburbs - once they have settled into service.

The ADL/BYD electric bus has been developed through a joint venture between BYD Auto in China and Alexander Dennis Limited in the UK.

Red Bus will monitor their performance through its sophisticated Telematics monitoring system which provides real time feedback to drivers on their acceleration, braking, cornering and speed; as well as driver and customer feedback.

Red Bus would like to thank the Christchurch Agency for Energy Trust (CAfE) for its core funding support and ECan for its strong funding support to collectively bring this project to life in Christchurch. “Both CAfE and ECan have encouraged us to take innovative investment in the future of Christchurch passenger transport and we welcome the opportunity to introduce a better public transport service” says McNoe.

McNoe says Red Bus is delighted both CAfE and ECan share its enthusiasm for the new electric buses, which builds on our other bus fleet sustainability initiatives such as the use of solar panels on our current bus fleet to use for auxiliary power requirements, reduce servicing and operating costs and the 2015 telematics investment that reduced the fleet fuel consumption by 3% and improved customer comfort through a smoother ride.

Stewart Gibbon, ECan’s senior manager public transport, says Environment Canterbury is excited to be part of the introduction and use of electric bus technology in Christchurch.

“Improving the environmental footprint of the public transport system is a key focus of ours, and our transport partners. This service will provide us with significant insights and learnings to help shape how we leverage this technology to evolve the public transport service for Greater Christchurch and Canterbury.”

Stewart Gibbon, Senior Manager, Environment Canterbury

The Christchurch Agency for Energy Trust (CAfE), a charitable trust established by the Christchurch City Council to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, has contributed core support funding for this project.

Christchurch City Councillor Pauline Cotter, the Trust’s Chair, says the project is setting a great example of a zero-exhaust emission bus service for Christchurch City.

“It’s wonderful to see such leadership from Red Bus, who are embracing innovation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and I congratulate them for it”.

Kevin Crutchley, Christchurch City Council’s Resource Efficiency Manager, who worked with Red Bus on researching available battery electric bus technology, says “This new battery electric transport service is excellent news for the city in both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. It also aligns well with Council’s commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy which requires a Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”