Bus drivers excited to be leading the EV charge in Palmerston North

Tranzit Coachlines and Horizons Regional Council are pleased to be introducing Palmerston North’s first electric bus to the network next week, with bus drivers lining up to be the first to drive the EV.

Tranzit bus driver Karl Gates is more excited than most about the electric bus.

Mr Gates has driven diesel buses for Tranzit for the last four years but was recently selected as one of three lead drivers to drive the new single deck electric bus which will join the Palmerston North Urban bus services next week, following a blessing and ceremony in The Square on Wednesday 24 February.

This ceremony will be attended by representatives from Horizons Regional Council, Palmerston North City Council, EECA, Tranzit, and Massey University, and be followed by an opportunity for public to talk to EV bus specialists and experience free EV bus rides around The Square.

Mr Gates, who is currently undergoing driver training in the new electric bus, is excited to be leading the EV charge in Palmerston North.

“I’ve heard they are very quiet and smooth to drive. I think it is something really exciting to have in Palmy,” says Mr Gates.

While Tranzit has been exploring EV technology since 2014 and currently operate 11 electric buses between Wellington and Auckland, this is the first EV bus they have introduced into one of the regions.

Tranzit’s director of operations and transport Keven Snelgrove says partnering with Horizons has enabled this milestone to happen and the new Palmerston North EV bus is a continuation of Tranzit’s commitment to having a sustainable bus fleet.

“This is a third generation EV bus for Tranzit, bringing even greater benefits to our EV fleet. This bus has improved efficiency and functionality with an up-to-date customer service experience and is operated by the latest batteries.

“What this means for our driver and for our passengers is a more comfortable and smoother journey,” says Mr Snelgrove.
Horizons transport manager Rhona Hewitt says the electric bus will be easily identifiable from the rest of the fleet with distinctive artwork. It will service urban routes and has the potential to reach over 1 million passengers per year.
"Horizons is very pleased to be able to introduce the first electric bus within the region. This EV will bring even greater benefits for our environment and provide our travelling public with a clean, comfortable service ensuring passengers get safely from A to B,” says Mrs Hewitt.
“It will also bring environmental and social benefits to the region which align with investment priorities signalled in the Regional Land Transport Plan, due to be adopted later this year, which look to take steps towards reducing carbon emissions and making improvements to help with climate change.”
Horizons and Tranzit Coachlines invite members of the public to check out the new electric bus on Wednesday 24 February, between 9 – 10am at the Palmerston North i-Site in The Square. They can have a chat to the experts on hand and take a quick trip in the bus to experience how clean and quiet, it is. Please note that under Alert Level 2 restrictions, appropriate protocols will be followed.

More information:

  • The single deck electric bus has been built in Tauranga at Kiwi Bus Builders (KBB) and is coined “third generation” because Tranzit has previously collaborated with KBB on EV1, the first generation bus now operating in Auckland, and on their double deck electric buses operating in Wellington.
  • This bus has wheelchair access and improved access allowing for 38 passengers seated + 30 standees.
  • It features batteries from CATL in China which are mounted in the rear and in the roof of the vehicle providing more room for passengers.
  • Tranzit has partnered with Electrix and completed an infrastructure upgrade to its Matipo Street depot and workshop, meaning it can charge the EV bus on site.
  • The EV bus will be charged by a dedicated 120kW bus charger.
  • It will take two hours to fully charge the bus.
  • Once fully charged, the bus can travel for approximately 250 km.
  • The EV bus will be fully air conditioned.
  • It will feature distinctive artwork making is easily identifiable from the diesel bus fleet.