Deco buses likened to a bad marriage

23:16, Mar 26 2014
Napier's unroadworthy deco bus
DECO RIDE: One of two art deco-style buses that cost Napier City Council almost $1 million to refit.

Napier's blighted art deco buses have been likened to a failed marriage and a funeral by councillors, who have decided they should be sold.

Before voting to sell the two buses, which cost $1.1 million, deputy mayor Faye White said their story was a sad one. They have been plagued by low patronage and mechanical problems since they hit the road in 2012.

"It's like a marriage. You go in with the best of intentions and no matter what you do, it just doesn't come right."

Her comments at yesterday's meeting were followed by laughter, and other councillors suggested that, like marriage, the buses had been "high maintenance" and "a bumpy ride".

Councillor Roy Sye noted council staff had advised the council in late 2011 to hold off from buying the buses but councillors voted to buy them anyway.

Michelle Pyke said the meeting felt "funereal" and while the buses had not been a financial success they had been "a screaming success" for users.

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Keith Price said the councillors' decision had been based on consultants' advice. The council was also advised the buses could not be built in New Zealand.

"Napier City Council was invited to send a representative [to America] to view these buses and the choice was made not to send someone . . . I think that was quite a bad slip-up."

The Deco City Discoverer buses were forecast to make an annual net operating loss of $393,000 by June 30. The council voted to put the buses out to tender but to keep them if they do not attract a reasonable bid.

The buses will stop running in early May.

The Dominion Post