Bus buy proves just the ticket for entrepreneur

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 08/08/2014
Napier buses
JOHN COWPLAND/ Fairfax NZ

BUS BARGAIN: Mark Scofield says he has been chuckling ever since the Napier City Council accepted his offer of $50,000 for two art deco buses which cost the council $837,000 two years ago.

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The new owner of Napier's two art deco buses had to chuckle when he heard his "cheeky" offer of $50,000 for both of them had been accepted.

"It was a bit hard to believe," Mark Scofield says of the buses, which Napier City Council bought for $837,000. They were taken out of service in May, having operated for just over a year.

The disastrous venture cost ratepayers a total of $1.3 million.

When Scofield received a call from the council last month informing him his tender had been successful, he "spent most of the day chuckling, thinking is this for real?".

After picking up the buses and talking to a few people "in the know" about their condition, he reckons the price was about right.

Scofield has every intention of keeping them in Hawke's Bay.

He and wife Devyn had a business using a double-decker bus for weddings and tours in Hawke's Bay for about seven years until they sold the bus about four years ago.

"At this stage I'm looking at setting up a tour that makes a lap of the city once a day. It would go along the [Marine] Parade, through the city, to Ahuriri and Westshore and maybe as far as the Mission [Winery]," he said. "It can be a good thing to do when you first get to a city, to get a feel for the place."

The service may run from October.

While some might think he bought the buses for a song, Scofield says a second-hand bus would usually sell for about that sum.

"The bottom line is that they're second-hand, 20-year-old school buses. They might have new motors, but they do have issues. When I picked them up the other day, one indicator and one window wiper weren't working.

"It's hard to know what sort of issues they might have. There is certainly an element of, ‘what the hell have I done'? "

The buses seat 30 people each and a further 18 can be carried standing. "I think they'd be great for weddings. I just picture a bridal party on the bus's back deck waving as they pulled away from a church."

The Scofields are Coronation Street fans and he says the buses' names will most likely be changed from Veronica and Belle to Jack and Vera.

The buses, which were plagued with mechanical problems, ran from April last year until May this year.

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