Six months after arriving in the country, and after an extensive engineering revamp after numerous faults were uncovered, Napier's Art Deco buses are finally set to go into service.
In a case of better late than never, the two custom-built buses dubbed "Veronica" and "Belle" will welcome their first passengers aboard next Monday at 9am for the first of scheduled hourly services from the National Aquarium, along Marine Parade around to Humber St in Ahuriri and then return.
Between March and November the service will run hourly, but during the height of the summer season between December and February the services will run every 30 minutes.
They will be operated by long-established transport company Nimon and Sons and will run daily.
For the Napier City Council it has been a long and frustrating delay after the buses, built by a specialist custom vehicle company in California, were found to fall short of safety expectations when they were evaluated by VTNZ inspectors after arriving in Wellington last October.
The buses, which have cost the council around $2 million to put into service, were found to have a string of defects including faults to lighting, seating and the wheels.
They were subsequently transported to Kiwi Buses in Tauranga, which carried out extensive remedial work on the vehicles.
It had been originally hoped they would enter service before the end of last summer, but that did not eventuate - although one was transported to Napier to go on static display during Art Deco Weekend.
It drew large crowds.
Because of the problems uncovered the council had refused to make a final payment to the American company for the work.
Mayor Barbara Arnott said the cost of the buses would not be borne by ratepayers - land sales had financed them.
She was delighted Veronica and Belle were finally going to turn a wheel, for both locals and tourists. "Our goal is to get people doing more and staying longer by giving them as much information as possible and sparking their interest to get off the bus and explore Napier."
She said passengers would hear an on-board recorded commentary that would point out city highlights of things to do, as well as showcasing landmarks and the history behind them.
The buses can carry up to 47 adults or 63 primary children, with people encouraged to purchase a "Hop-on Hop-off" pass with adult, child and family rates - valid for the day of purchase and for unlimited use.
"Although the design of the buses is certainly going to catch the eye of visitors to the city, we are sure locals will be compelled to jump on board and enjoy the new service also," Mrs Arnott said. "We have so much to offer our visitors to Napier and the buses are going to provide a unique transportation to link everything together."