Here come the e-buses

2 minutes read
Posted 7 February, 2024
Screenshot 2024 02 07 165746

From left: Andrew Noone, ORC Councillor and co-chair of ORC Public and Active Transport Committee, ORC Chief Executive Richard Saunders, Ritchies CEO Michele Kernahan, Ritchies Transport Commercial Director Amish Vallabh, and Helena Lee - JW Group (which supplied the buses)

Electric buses will replace Queenstown's whole Orbus fleet starting in 2028, but Dunedin will get them first.

Otago Regional Council, which runs the Orbus services, has confirmed today that the first fleet of e-buses will appear on Dunedin’s streets this month.

ORC Public and Active Transport Committee co-chair Andrew Noone says: "This is a significant investment in our environment as well as in public transport.

"We’re introducing 11 electric buses this month. Combined, they will reduce fuel consumption by nearly 240,000 litres of diesel a year.

"Not only will this help improve air quality in Dunedin – it’s a significant contribution towards the city’s 2030 zero carbon goals.

"For instance, nearly 648,000 km of the 4.5 million km travelled by our buses on the road each year will now be zero emissions."

Contractor Ritchies conducted an e-bus trial in 2021 on Dunedin’s public transport routes, including hills, the city centre and motorways. It found the bus used between 40-50% of battery on a full day of service and performed well on the hills.

They also performed well in cold weather and started in sub-zero temperatures, which allays some of the concerns about adding them to the Queenstown fleet.

More detail is expected later this week on Queenstown's transition to e-buses, but ORC has confirmed council’s current plan is that the whole bus fleet is electrified from 2028.

"We hope passengers will enjoy riding these new electric buses, which are quieter than diesel and have advanced safety and other technology, including an on-board fire suppression system," Noone says of the Dunedin fleet.

Six e-bus chargers are in place at Ritchies bus depot in Dunedin. Drivers have been trained on the new vehicles and the buses are being set up to allow them to operate Bee Card.


  • 648,000 km of the 4.5 million km travelled by Orbus fleet on the road each year will now be zero emissions
  • Combined, the e-buses will reduce fuel consumption by nearly 240,000 litres of diesel a year
  • The first eleven buses will start running in February 2024
  • A further eleven e-buses will go into service from mid-2025
  • The buses are set up to use Bee Cards
Screenshot 2024 02 07 165817

An electric Orbus


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