If you haven't already done so, you may wish to read one of the earlier
articles in this series, starting with
Just slightly more than a year after their launch, the Shuttles have
carried their millionth passenger. Passengers have clamoured to ride free
around the inner city loop on this environmentally friendly vehicle. Fewer
cars are travelling into the city centre.
Problems of pollution, particularly CO2 emissions, and a spread out city centre caused Christchurch City Council
to form a partnership with operator, Redbus, and coach manufacturer,
designline, to launch three electric hybrid Shuttles in December
Numbers travelling have exceeded several fold the estimated 300,000
annually. Passengers are shoppers, tourists and students. Many travel on
the Shuttle because it is convenient and free; others because it is
environmentally friendly. All like the fun image of the Shuttle, its
colour and design.
All passengers rate the smooth ride, the spaciousness and the quietness of
the vehicle very highly. There are no hassles of queuing and finding
change. It is easy to enjoy the city. The Shuttle makes people feel
happy. Christchurch city is saying that people matter. Results are
The Christchurch Shuttle
Photo Source Peter Hunt
The Shuttle has lifted the whole image of public transport.
passengers are making their first trip on public transport and would be
prepared to pay to ride.
Shoppers are returning to the city centre, say retailers.
Fewer cars are travelling into the city centre. Christchurch Polytechnic
reports that with improved public transport fewer students and staff are
Successful Shuttle is being repowered.
The millionth passenger is riding just as the Shuttle is being repowered in
another technological breakthrough for the manufacturer, designline.
Power is still supplied from solid gel, water-cooled batteries. However,
the diesel-engined Auxiliary Power Unit which charges the batteries is
being replaced with a Capstone Turbine. Developed from auxiliary
turbines in Boeing jets, the turbine's use on a bus is a world first.
The Shuttle will now go further, run more quietly, and have a higher
average speed. The top speed is set at 80 km/h, average speed at 22 km/h
and maximum distance at 340 km in an 18-hour day. The turbine is powered
with LPG and meets Euro 111 1999 Enhanced Environmentally Friendly Vehicles
Standards, the most stringent in the world. In ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle)
mode, pollution is zero.
Passengers benefit as noise levels are well below acceptable levels. Full
loads can now be carried with the reduced weight of batteries.
Operators benefit as the vehicles are simpler to operate. Controlled
management produces a constant power supply and there is less opportunity
for damage from inexperienced drivers. The on-board computer system sets
vehicle performance to suit the route.
designline's breakthrough has real commercial benefits. Running
costs are no more than diesel vehicles. They reduce further with the
overnight charging of batteries from off peak power supply. Maintenance
costs are considerably lower than for diesel vehicles. With no engine
there is no engine maintenance; with less vibration less body and brakes
maintenance is required.
Green medal winner enhances New Zealand's green image.
designline's development of this green medal winner is opportune.
Today there is considerable public focus on the environment. Concerns
about long-term health implications of pollution have led to calls for
reduced traffic in city centres.
Local authorities everywhere agree than bus transport offers the best
solution to traffic problems. The bus is a far lower environmental burden
than passenger cars, calculated on the number of passengers per kilometre.
If buses are clean burning and smoother riding like the Christchurch
Shuttle, then passengers want to use them. If bus lanes are introduced,
then travel by bus is efficient for everyone. If more passengers travel by
bus then the higher number of passengers means a much lower cost per
The Confederation of Passenger Transport, UK, has estimated that the
greater use of public transport in the place of the car can reduce carbon
emissions per passenger kilometre by almost 80%. Buses could transport 30%
of all travellers. Just 15% of all vehicles on the road they would occupy
only 3% of road space. This applies equally in New Zealand.
designline electric vehicles are green medal winners that reflect
well the environmentally friendly status of New Zealand. They are now a
commercial reality able to be used in any city environment.
The time is right to extend their use throughout New Zealand to prove to
the world we are serious about preserving our clean, green image.