e-bus in Dunedin

Electric Buses 

Otago Regional Council is committed to reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality across Otago.

Transport is a major contributor to Otago's total emissions. The best way to reduce private transport emissions is to get more people riding the buses - we hope the chance to ride on our clean, modern and efficient e-buses will motivate more people to try commuting by bus.

The buses went into service in Dunedin throughout February 2024.

The e-buses mark the start of ORC’s move to a low-emission future for public transport.



The difference an e-bus makes

Hopping on board an e-bus is one of the most sustainable ways for us to travel. 

The new e-buses will contribute to the city’s carbon zero goals because:

  • 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




What does an e-bus provide?

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. 

Some other interesting facts about our new buses:

  • They are quieter than diesel with less vibration, which helps to provide a better passenger experience and also reduces noise pollution for residents along bus routes.
  • Our new zero emission buses can carry up a total of 54 passengers seated and standing, with room for those with accessibility needs.
  • The e-buses have a short wheelbase so there’s improved handling for tight corners or turns.
  • They operate well in cold weather and can start in sub-zero temperatures.
  • They have advanced safety and other technology including USB ports for passengers, LED lighting and an onboard fire suppression system. 


Findings from 2021 e-bus trial

An e-bus trial took place in 2021 and the bus was used on a variety of routes throughout Dunedin.

It used between 40-50% of battery on a full day of service and performed well on hills, mitigating concerns about lack of battery power and range.

More of the battery charge was consumed on steeper hills and when the air conditioning was used, though the braking of the vehicle regenerating energy partly compensated for increased battery consumption.

Overall, it was found that battery usage was not an issue, and the bus worked well on the different types of terrain.

We have more information on the background of why ORC is using e-buses for you here:




An e-bus, short for electric bus, is a bus that is powered by electricity. E-buses use batteries to store electricity in the vehicle. With hydroelectric power stations generating most of New Zealand’s electricity, e-buses are some of the most sustainable ways for us to travel. 

Our e-buses will start operating on the following routes throughout February:

Buses are being introduced into the fleet as contracts come up for renewal. The next e-buses will arrive in 2025 and operate in Brighton, Green Island, Fairfield and Mosgiel (routes 70, 77, 78, 80, 81).

Yes, tagging on and off with your Bee Card will not change.

They’re not completely silent and do have a noise that people will learn to identify, just not from as far away as the noisier diesels.  

In the e-bus trial in 2021 and recent testing buses performed well on hills. More of the battery charge is consumed on steeper hills but the braking of the vehicle on the downhill regenerates energy. 

ORC is committed to reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality across Otago. The central government has announced that from 2025, no new fossil-fuelled buses can be introduced into service in New Zealand, and by 2035, all fossil-fuelled buses must be replaced.  

Transport is a major contributor to Otago's total emissions. Getting more people to use the e-buses more often right now will make a significant impact.

e-Buses are great for city travel, because driving on city roads involves lots of accelerating and braking, which e-buses are better at doing than diesel buses when it comes to energy. That is because e-Buses can recharge most of the kinetic energy back into batteries when they brake, increasing the efficiency and reducing the wear on the brake, which diesel buses cannot do.  

Using electricity instead of fossil fuels reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and helps reduce noise and air pollution. 

Find out how greenhouse gases contribute to climate change.

Here are some quick stats:

  • Zero tail pipe emission (reduced inner city air pollution)
  • Significantly quieter
  • Smoother ride for both passengers and drivers

*in comparison to diesel buses.


Orbus e-bus logo on new bus

Orbus branded e-bus at launch of Feb 2024

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