Decarbonisation of bus fleets for a healthier Aotearoa


In a major step towards the decarbonisation of bus fleets across Aotearoa New Zealand, Public Transport Authorities (PTAs), such as regional councils and Auckland Transport, are now able to apply for financial support from a $136.95m contestable fund.

In January 2021, the Government announced it will require only zero-emission public transport buses to be purchased from 2025, and target the complete decarbonisation of the public transport bus fleet by 2035. Through Budget 2022, the Government agreed to provide $136.95 million over 12 years to support decarbonisation of the public transport bus fleet. The first four years’ funding of $40.65m is being funded from the Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF), with the balance to be funded from general Crown revenue.

The contestable fund aims to accelerate the decarbonisation of the public transport bus fleet by supporting PTAs to meet the costs of initiatives such as zero emission buses and supporting infrastructure.

Delaney Myers, Manager Public Transport, Waka Kotahi said that transitioning the public transport bus fleet from diesel-fuelled to zero- or low-emission vehicles will contribute to the transport sector’s emission reduction targets.

“A healthier transport system will mean a healthier and safer future for everyone. Decarbonising Aotearoa’s bus fleet is an important part of the system-wide move to building a more resilient New Zealand, which will help us reach our emissions targets, but also improve air quality and amenity in our towns and cities. Waka Kotahi has been actively engaging with the sector to understand the bus decarbonisation challenges and to design the contestable fund,” says Ms Myers.

“PTAs are in the best position, in collaboration with bus companies, to determine how funding can best help decarbonise their regions, so we’ve developed a mechanism to assess and prioritise their investment proposals. PTAs will be the only entities able to apply to this fund as they have overall ownership and accountability for the delivery of services in their regions and are therefore best placed to take a long-term, strategic view of the decarbonisation pathway for their region.”

Acknowledging the twelve-year duration of the budget commitment for bus decarbonisation and that unknown technology opportunities are still to be realised over the next decade, it is intended that a series of funding rounds will be held over the 12-year duration of the budget allocation.

PTAs are now able to apply for the first funding round and have until 23 June 2023 to submit their applications for funding.

The successful recipients of the first round of the bus decarbonisation contestable fund will be announced later in the year, in September.