11 Feb 2016

Capital's commuters test double-deckers

5:43 am on 11 February 2016

A double-decker bus has opened its doors for rides in the capital, as the Greater Wellington Regional Council starts its plan to introduce a fleet of 50 in two years' time.

A double-decker bus gave demonstration rides through town in Wellington on Wednesday as part of the Greater Wellington Regional Council's plan to introduce a fleet of 50 buses by 2018. This bus is part of Auckland's fleet.

A double-decker bus - part of Auckland's fleet - gave demonstration rides through Wellington on Wednesday. Photo: RNZ / Maja Burry

The double-deckers will help replace the city's trolley buses, which are being phased out as part of the council's plan for managing traffic congestion.

Public transport spokesperson Paul Swain said the move was also about getting people out of cars.

"People have told us that if they're going to do that, the service needs to be reliable, it needs to be affordable and the journey time needs to be competitive with the car, and this is where the double-decker comes in for us."

Wellington's demonstration bus, which was borrowed from Auckland's bus fleet, seats 111 passengers - with 55 of those seats upstairs.

The council hasn't secured a manufacturer for the buses yet but Mr Swain estimated the cost would be in the tens of millions.

"This is a big capital cost, this is the biggest change to the bus fleet and to the bus route in Wellington in decades.

"This is a major step forward for the Wellington region and for public transport."

The change was aimed at reducing traffic in Wellington's most congested areas, however regional council chair Chris Laidlaw said there were some places the buses would not be able to go.

"That's the only difficulty with double-deckers - the Karori tunnel isn't suitable and there may be one or two other areas where they can't go, but we're not only going to have a fleet of double-deckers, that's why you need the right mix."

The bus' doors were opened to the public from 1-3pm on Wednesday, with commuters making a loop through town passing through Lambton Quay.

The new buses were expected to start operating from January 2018.

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