Art Deco buses to roll again

By Simon Hendery

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Mark Scofield is open to ideas on how to best use the Art Deco "pop-up toaster" buses he bought from Napier City Council. Photo / Duncan Brown
Mark Scofield is open to ideas on how to best use the Art Deco "pop-up toaster" buses he bought from Napier City Council. Photo / Duncan Brown

The new owner of Napier City Council's Art Deco buses wants to make them a regular sight on the city's streets again by October - but with more passengers.

Mark Scofield put in the highest tender - around $50,000 - for the two custom-built buses after the council washed its hands of a failed tourism business venture which has cost ratepayers more than $1 million.

Mr Scofield is no stranger to buses and the tourism sector. He and his wife Devyn used to run a double-decker tour and charter service but sold that bus in 2011.

A legacy of that earlier business lives on: the couple bought and will run the deco buses through their company Double Decker Transport.

"I thought I'd put a price in and see what happens. My wife was horrified when it came to reality but now she's a bit more excited about it," Mr Scofield said.

"I never dreamed I'd be the successful tenderer but having had the double-decker bus before and doing tourism work in Hawke's Bay, there's a part of me that enjoys it."

The other big development for the couple this week was that Mr Scofield was offered redundancy from the Hastings freight company where he has been working.

"Maybe it's better that way so that I focus on this a bit more," he said.

Mr Scofield hopes to start a daily Napier city sightseeing tour using the buses by October. It would run for at least the warmer half of the year, if not all year round, but he says the couple will "need more than that to pay the mortgage".

He is hoping to replicate the double-decker bus charter and tour work the company previously did, including running trips to and from sporting events, and for weddings.

"I'm hoping people will see that they are quite a neat wagon for moving the guests from the church to the reception."

He also welcomed ideas from the community and businesses about how the buses - dubbed "pop-up toasters" on arrival in Napier - could be used. But one idea has been ruled out: "I don't think we'll do stag do's."

Bus company Nimon & Sons said this week it did not bid for the buses because it did not believe they were reliable enough for an urban service but Mr Scofield said the vehicles had new engines and given the price he paid, "you can afford to take in a bit of maintenance".

The buses, know as Veronica and Belle, could be in for a name change, with Devyn suggesting Jack and Vera.

"Maybe that's how it will work out - I'll drive Jack and she'll drive Vera," Mr Scofield said. "We hope it's just going to be a bit of fun along the way rather than what's transpired so far."

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said he wished Mr Scofield well.

"If he can make them run profitably, and at that price he may well be able to, and they stay in Hawke's Bay, I'm just delighted."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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