Napier's $1m buses banned from road

By Doug Laing of Hawke's Bay Today -
The rear of the Art Deco bus. Photo / supplied
The rear of the Art Deco bus. Photo / supplied

Two second-hand buses which have been refitted for a new Art Deco service in Napier at a cost of about $1 million to ratepayers are unroadworthy and back off to the workshop, before they've hit the road.

Bought in France, remodelled in the United States and in the country barely a week, they were to have been pushed into service almost immediately to meet a new summer demand, but have been ruled unsafe for the road with multiple faults found by vehicle testers.

Plans were today being made to transport them by truck from Hawkes Bay to Tauranga for Bay of Plenty company Kiwi Bus Builders to complete the job which should have been done by California refitters H.B.Industries, hopefully still within a budget criticised by some opponents since the bus plans emerged two years ago.

Adopting the bus-stops-here approach, Napier City Council chief executive Neil Taylor conceded today the number and nature of the faults and omissions was "very frustrating and very disappointing".

They include a spare wheel missing from one bus, indicators that don't function, internal lights not working on one of the buses, a driver's seatbelt improperly fitted, two seats not properly fixed in position, and other issues such as missing window seals and blemishes in the paintwork.

"Stupid things," he said. "Things where you ask, 'Why didn't they just fix that?"'

The buses, including purpose-designed open-air viewing platforms, were intended to be in service this month, running tourists between the sea frontage of Napier City and the popular eat-out and bar areas of Ahuriri.

A particular target is the cruise-liner season, with 65 visits scheduled from October 30 to the first week of April.

Mr Taylor praised the efforts of bus operating contractors Nimon and the Tauranga company trying to rectify problems which were not of their making, but said it was clear the buses would not be in use for the "whole of the summer" as the council had planned.

The council is in the meantime withholding a final payment to H.B.Industries, Mr Taylor said.

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