Art deco buses finally on a roll

DIANE JOYCE
Last updated 10:35 11/12/2013

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Hawke's Bay

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The number of passengers using Napier's art deco buses has almost doubled, from 592 in July, to 1078 last month.

But there were some dismal months in between those two: 181 in August and 203 in September, growing to 525 in October.

On Monday, Napier City Council tourism manager Neil Fergus said July's figures were improved by a school holiday offer of a hop- on hop-off pass for the price of a one-way fare.

"We expected numbers to drop off in August and September as they are our off-season months and, as the service was still relatively new, numbers were light." However, November had left council staff feeling much perkier.

"We're thrilled that numbers in October and November have been boosted with higher visitor numbers to Napier and the cruise season starting.

"This is in line with what we were hoping for.

"As the cruise season gets into full swing, we are expecting further uptake in passenger numbers."

Each bus could carry 47 people on the Napier-Ahuriri route.

The initiative made a $58,000 loss between when the buses started operating in April and the end of August.

The company that operated the buses for the council, Nimon and Sons, had told Mr Fergus that scheduled services took a minimum of 18 months to build business.

Council budgeted $1.5 million to buy the two old American school buses and have them converted to art deco style.

They were then shipped to New Zealand where they made national news when they broke down on the trip from Wellington to Napier, and had to be sent to a Tauranga firm for repair work.

It cost $100,000 to make the buses roadworthy, but the final cost came in under budget.

One of the buses had had two breakdowns, both airconditioning failures outside the National Aquarium. Both took about 10 minutes to fix.

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- The Napier Mail

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