I have just returned from a road-show in the South Island. We educated over 5,000 people and planted 14,000 trees next to the waterways.

To pull this off, we burned diesel in the four-wheel drive vehicles that we needed to cart all the gear and get access the planting sites. This obviously causes emissions, but I feel alright about this due to the trees we put in the ground.

We also reduced our impact significantly by working with the generous folk at Kiwirail and Toll Auto Express to put our two vehicles onto train wagons for the long haul trips, rather than burn fuel and let brake dust go into the waterways that we are trying to improve.

When I returned to Auckland and sat in traffic to get to a breakfast meeting yesterday, I will admit, I took the car, because I was not sure that public transport would get me there on time.


As I sat by myself in my 1.6 litre Corolla, surrounded by people in business attire driving 3 litre SUVs I cursed at my stupidity for joining Auckland's private vehicle commuters.

I was overtaken by countless people on bikes who were clearly achieving more for their health, Auckland's air quality and wasting less work time, and I watched the train sail past.

The fact that I was angry was hypocritical - although it didn't escalate into road rage, I have written about this before, and I think it is ridiculous that over the last 10 years, we have consistently spent much more than twice the money on roads as we do on public transport in Auckland.

If you build more roads, you get more cars. Simple as that.

Our stupidity with transport in Auckland has been in effect for more than 60 years. Since the authorities ripped out the extensive tram network Auckland, we have pathetically plummeted from a 1954 average level of 290 public transport trips per person per year to a measly 41 in 2009.

Both Auckland and Christchurch compare woefully on the international scale. Studies have shown that Auckland is one of the most car dependent in the world and public transport rates are among the lowest in the world.

As with most of my articles, the question then becomes what can we do about this?

Well, over in China there is a unique company that has come up with some unique solutions to the challenges of transport and emissions.


Build Your Dreams (BYD) is making electric buses that are beginning to change the landscape of sustainable public transport.

At a price tag of between $380,000 - $580,000 per bus, while the initial investment is significant, they are fully electric, so the savings on fuel and health benefits are huge.

The machines charge in only three hours and have a range of 249km, making them suitable for a city such as Auckland.

A quick search on TradeMe found new diesel-burning tour buses for $200,000 - so it seems to me, that electrifying our public transport solutions could be a way forward into the future. Over the long term (a viewpoint which is sorely needed for a growing metropolis) these buses easily pay themselves off in direct fuel savings, allowing more money to be invested into electrified rail.

Many thousands of BYD's fully-electric buses and taxis have been ordered around the world. Logic would tell you that in New Zealand, where about 70% of our electricity comes from renewable sources, that it makes sense to take steps to electrify our transport.

In China, cities are being provided with three "Zero Cost" financial models to utilise BYD's technology, where the Chinese Development Bank is assisting individual customers, taxi companies, cities and even provinces to get electric vehicles on the road.

As the financial sensibility becomes apparent, taxis are now rapidly changing to fully-electric cars - meaning emissions could be reduced by over 38 million tonnes per year if all Chinese taxis were to become electric.

Why can't we take the lead in Auckland, invest in the infrastructure to make our public fleets electric and then let private electric vehicles share the bus lanes?