Metlink plans articulated bus trial on Wellington’s busiest route

Posted: 9 August 2023 | | No comments yet

Metlink’s innovative trial of articulated buses on Wellington’s number 2 bus route offers a promising solution to surging commuter demand, while considering infrastructure adaptations and stakeholder consultations for a seamless transition.

Metlink plans articulated bus trial on Wellington's busiest route

Credit: Metlink

Metlink has announced that it is gearing up to launch a trial of articulated buses on the heavily-trafficked number 2 bus route, which spans from Karori through Miramar to Seatoun. The agency has unveiled its favoured strategy among five potential solutions to tackle the increasing passenger demand on the city’s busiest bus route, frequented by approximately 9,600 commuters on an average workday.

Transport Chair Thomas Nash said: “In the last 12 months we’ve had three million trips on the number 2 route and in 10 years, we’re forecast to have twice that number. We can’t keep adding buses to increase frequency as this will cause a logjam of buses queuing up behind each other. On a route where double deckers can’t fit through existing road tunnels, articulated buses would be a game-changer.”

The proposed solution involves incorporating articulated buses into the mix, potentially revolutionising the route’s capacity. Articulated buses are known to accommodate 70% more passengers compared to single-decker counterparts, despite being only 41% longer in length (18m as opposed to 12.8m). Although the increased length has a minimal impact on manoeuvrability, with the turning circle merely 1m longer than a standard bus (24m compared to 23m), the potential benefits in capacity are substantial.

To evaluate the feasibility of this approach, a trial run using an articulated bus typically utilised for school routes in Auckland will take place during the September 2023 school holidays. The trial will gauge the compatibility of articulated buses with the route’s infrastructure, pedestrian paths, cycling lanes and overall road safety.

Metlink Group Manager Samantha Gain said: “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. Route 2 bus stops will need to be lengthened before articulated buses can be brought into permanent service.”

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One key aspect involves lengthening the existing bus stops along route 2 to accommodate articulated buses before they can be permanently introduced. This essential adjustment is part of Wellington City Council’s Transport Projects, with plans to initiate the changes in Karori up for consultation in September 2023.

Furthermore, the impending realignments of curbs aimed at improving accessibility for route 2 passengers will also complement the seamless integration of articulated buses.

Other options for boosting route 2 capacity, such as tunnel modifications to accommodate double decker buses, route diversions around tunnels, increased frequency and the introduction of specially modified double-decker buses, have been ruled out in favour of the articulated bus trial.

Metlink collaborated closely with Wellington City Council on a comprehensive business case and feasibility assessment for the articulated buses. If all goes as planned, Metlink is optimistic about introducing articulated buses into regular service on route 2 by 2026..