It's electrifying! Nelson-Tasman's bus service is going electric

Posted on 23 September 2022

It's electrifying! Nelson-Tasman's bus service is going electric

More frequent, more environmentally friendly, and more widespread is the promise of a new contract awarded to local operator Nelson Coachlines SBL to deliver Nelson-Tasman's bus service for the next nine years.

The contract will replace the existing bus fleet with one where 80 percent of the buses used are electric. The Late Late Bus and overflow buses, which make up the remainder of the fleet, will be at the highest European standard for environmentally friendly diesel buses. This will be the first mostly electric bus service outside of major urban centres in New Zealand.  

Chair of the Nelson Regional Transport Committee Brian McGurk says the region is leading the way in sustainability.  

“We know that public transport in itself helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but by providing 17 new electric buses, we’ve gone a step further in reducing the emissions of Nelson-Tasman. This shows a real commitment to our priority of creating a sustainable transport culture and responding to the climate emergency.”   

The new bus service, made possible by a Waka Kotahi subsidy, will not only be greener, there will also be more buses going to more places. The new service will include new routes from Motueka and Wakefield, as well as an airport service. 

“These new routes will provide public transport options for people from places like Brightwater, Mapua, Hope and Tasman. Giving them the opportunity to leave the car at home and commute to work by bus,” says Chair of the Tasman Regional Transport Committee Stuart Bryant. 

“With the services from Motueka and Wakefield going express from Richmond to Nelson they will be a pretty efficient way to get into our urban centres, and a good way to save money on petrol!” 

Services on routes 1 and 2 will also become more frequent, with buses every half hour from 7am to 7pm and extending service to Richmond West and Richmond South.  

Routes from Mapua and Brightwater will cost $4 to get to Nelson, and $6 from Motueka and Wakefield. Transfers taken within one hour will come at no extra cost. 

Funding of $7m for Nelson-Tasman's Regional Public Transport Plan, and new bus fleet, was approved by Waka Kotahi earlier this year. This makes up 51 percent of the budget for public transport from 2021 - 2024.

Motueka Community Board Chair Brent Maru says the new services will transform the way our communities connect.  

“Working at the other side of Tasman Bay will no longer seem out of reach. Regular services will be opening up many more opportunities for work and leisure.” 

Commuters between Richmond and Nelson will also benefit from the new contract, with the introduction of a new $2 flat fare for adult Bee Card users for all journeys in Nelson and Richmond – an 80-cent reduction for a journey spanning three zones. 

Deputy Chair of the Nelson Regional Transport Committee Judene Edgar says she hopes cheaper fares will help people cope with the cost of living crisis.” 

“For someone taking the bus to and from work, Monday to Friday, the flat fare could save them more than $400 a year. With bus fares half price until January 2023, this is a great time to see whether commuting by bus works for you.” 

Councillor Bryant says he is looking forward to seeing more people from both regions using the bus service. 

“A more frequent and cheaper bus service connecting the region’s major urban areas will encourage more people to make that shift from their car to public transport,” says Councillor Bryant. “People in Nelson-Tasman will soon be able to consider the bus a much more practical option for many of their regular journeys.” 

Director of Nelson Coachlines – SBL Group Ltd Tim Cumming says, “this is great news for the team, we are excited to deliver a quieter, cleaner, greener service for our passengers and the region.” 

The new bus service will start 1 July 2023.

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