Bus bosses are keeping mum on two hybrid coaches rotting away in the Auckland rain.
A series of breakdowns had Auckland's publicly-funded and hybrid-electric buses taken off the streets in 2010.
NZ Bus said the buses would be refitted with diesel engines and be back on the roads soon. But this week, the two broken hybrids were still lying idle at the NZ Bus Swanson depot.
Ratepayers forked out for the hybrids. The former Auckland Regional Transport Authority gave $786,000 and the old council $40,000 in the service's last year alone. The buses cost $560,000 each when bought in 2003.
City and regional councils teamed up with Stagecoach (now NZ Bus) and business lobby group Heart of the City to launch the service.
Auckland councillor George Wood said the fate of the buses was an insult to ratepayers. "I find that very irresponsible. They've just been sitting there. They've just put them on the scrap heap."
NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames told Wellington councillors last month to prepare for an electric bus fleet numbering in the dozens. But NZ Bus refused to give answers on the Auckland hybrids.
NZ Bus executive assistant Jayne Collins said bus company bosses were unavailable to talk about the hybrids.
However, marketing manager Rajeev Jadoo said the issue was a private one. He was not aware ratepayers had helped fund the hybrid service.
NZ Bus told The Aucklander in 2010: "The contract does stipulate that the buses used to run the services are hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs). The HEVs will be back on the road as soon as possible."
Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney initially championed the hybrids. This week he said he was still annoyed at the project's failure.
Swney said the hybrids misfired in a series of breakdowns. Of the technology, he said: "It wasn't leading-edge. It was leaning-edge."
Swney said Auckland Transport bosses had "diesel in their blood". Auckland Transport referred all enquiries on the hybrids back to NZ Bus.
When contacted again, Collins told the Herald on Sunday to "give up".
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