Wellington to trial bendy buses, borrowed from Auckland

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The bendy bus that will be trialled on Wellington’s busiest bus route. Photo / Greater Wellington Regional Council

Wellington is borrowing one of Auckland’s bendy buses to trial on the capital’s busiest route along which three million trips have been made in the past year.

This number is expected to double to six million trips in the next decade and Greater Wellington Regional Council has been investigating options to boost capacity.

The number 2 bus route runs between Karori, Miramar and Seatoun.

Regional council transport committee chairman Thomas Nash said double-decker buses couldn’t fit through some of the existing road tunnels, so articulated buses would be a game changer.

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“We can’t keep adding buses to increase frequency as this will cause a logjam of buses queuing up behind each other.”

Bendy buses can take 70 per cent more passengers than a single-decker bus. Photo / Greater Wellington Regional Council
Bendy buses can take 70 per cent more passengers than a single-decker bus. Photo / Greater Wellington Regional Council

Articulated buses, commonly known as bendy buses, are longer and have a pivot connection in the middle allowing them to turn corners.

They can take 70 per cent more passengers than a single-decker bus but are only 40 per cent longer.

In total, they are 18m in length instead of 12.8m. The extra length only slightly impacts cornering, with the turning circle just 1m longer.

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A Wellington trial will be held in the September school holidays using a bus that normally services school routes in Auckland.

Metlink group manager Samantha Gain said if the trial is successful, bus operators, unions, cycling networks, and the accessibility community will be consulted before bendy buses are introduced.

“Reconfigurations on the route will also be necessary to create sufficient space for articulated buses to pick up passengers and safely share the road with pedestrians, cyclists and motorists,” Gain said.

“Route 2 bus stops will need to be lengthened before articulated buses can be brought into permanent service.”

Other options the council considered to boost capacity on the number 2 route were modifying the Karori and Seatoun tunnels to fit double-deckers, redirecting buses around the tunnels, and introducing a fleet of modified double-deckers to fit the tunnels.

These were discounted.

It’s hoped bendy buses will be in service by 2026.

Georgina Campbell is a Wellington-based reporter who has a particular interest in local government, transport, and seismic issues. She joined the Herald in 2019 after working as a broadcast journalist.



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