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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]

The State of the Big Reds

The State of the Big Reds

Wellington operates a mixed diesel and trolley bus fleet, which has one major problem. The newest diesel buses are some ten years old, and the oldest is a 8pritely 28. The trolleys aren't much better, the newest being some 12 years old and the oldest approaching 26. The problem is that city buses are usually given a life span of 12 to 15 years, after which point the running costs tend to escalate, and mechanical reliability tends to decline.

That we need new buses even the council realises, but the problem now is cost, we can't afford them, and there seems to be little prospect of the transport service ever earning enough to finance their own replacements.

Sidestepping that problem for a moment, do our present buses provide a suitable substitute for the private car, are they what the customer wants? I won't attempt to answer that one, we all have our own views on the subject, but I will list some of the features that' commuters in Brisbane said they wanted in their passenger transport.

1.Air conditioning combined with effective insulation, to reduce noise, and minimise temperature extremes.
2.Light pastel interior colour schemes.
3.Quiet operation, with reduced interior noises, including the elimination of all squeaks and rattles.
4.Comfortable, divided seating providing more space for each passenger.
5.Smooth, fast stopping and starting. (Quite high rates of acceleration were acceptable).
6.Large windows with tinted glass to reduce glare.
7.Effective daily cleaning, both interior and exterior.
8.Provision of waist height hand holds for standing passengers. These could be pillars or bars.
9.Space for passenger luggage.... either overhead racks, or an area behind the driver (which involves a sacrifice of seating space, though the area could be adaptable.)

The provision of vehicles to meet these demands would be somewhat expensive, but could be met by modem automatic or semi-automatic diesels, or modem trolley buses. In the first case Mercedes Benz, Leyland Nationals, Britos REL's and any number of other makes could fit the bill, while in the case of Trolley buses, any number of continental makes could fit the bill, though if we wanted to buy British, Leyland have just produced an electric version of the National, which is running on the Runcorn Busway in Lancashire.

The case for the improvement of public transport in Wellington requires a political solution. It requires the implementation of broad-based overall scheme for public transport to take priority over the private and non-essential commercial motor vehicles, and only when this occurs will there be the faintest gleam of hope for the centre of our city.

Photo of a bus