We are 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 electric buses (e-buses) will motivate more people commuting by bus.

The e-buses went into service in Dunedin throughout February 2024.

The e-buses mark the start of the Otago Regional Council's move to a low-emission future for public transport.

Electric bus in Dunedin.
Electric bus (e-bus) in Dunedin

What is an electric bus?

Also known as an e-bus, an 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 produce less carbon emissions.

The difference an e-bus makes

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

The new e-buses will contribute to Dunedin 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.

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.

Combined, the e-buses will reduce fuel consumption by nearly 240,000 litres of diesel a year.

What an e-bus provides (and makes them better than diesel buses)

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. This 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 – diesel buses can't do this.  

Some other interesting facts about our new e-buses that give you, as a passenger, a better experience:

  • They are quieter than diesel with less vibration, which helps to provide a better passenger experience and reduces noise pollution for people living 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. 
  • Smoother ride for both passengers and drivers


Using electricity instead of fossil fuels reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and helps reduce noise and air pollution when compared to diesel buses. 

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.

Dunedin e-bus trial in 2021.
Dunedin e-bus trial in 2021

The bus routes where the e-buses are running

E-buses are currently running on the below Dunedin routes:

E-buses are being introduced into the fleet and into the other different routes over time as bus contracts come up for renewal. 

The next e-buses for the Dunedin network will arrive in 2025 and operate in Brighton, Green Island, Fairfield and Mosgiel (routes 70, 77, 78, 80, 81).

FAQs about e-buses