Plan to colour all coaches in the same scheme could be costly but AT says it will help visitors get around Auckland.

Ratepayers are likely to be hit with a multi-million dollar bill following an order from Auckland Transport that all buses have to be painted the same colour.

The cost has been called "insane" by a ratepayers ginger group, but the move is being defended by transport bosses who say it will help to market Auckland as a whole.

It's not known exactly how much painting the fleet the generic grey and blue will cost due to a combination of factors - contracts out to tender, new operators entering the market and buses being replaced - but an industry insider said it would cost upwards of $5 million.

The decision was made in 2014 to launch a "consistent brand" across Auckland's buses, trains and ferries under the Regional Public Transport Plan.

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Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance spokeswoman Jo Holmes said the move was "insane" and a "waste of money".

"There are a lot more transport issues we could be spending that money on instead of painting buses."

It showed how muddled Auckland Transport's priorities were, Ms Holmes said. "Auckland needs more buses, not more expensive council branding."

Ritchies bus company owner Andrew Ritchie wasn't sure how many buses in his fleet needed the transformation because he was currently tendering new contracts with Auckland Transport. However, each upgrade cost $9000.

"It's going to cost millions all up."

Mr Ritchie said the bill would be passed on to ratepayers because the expenses are written into the contracts with Auckland Transport.

"Someone's got to pay - we're charging someone and that will come back to the ratepayers."

Birkenhead residents are set to submit a petition to the Auckland Council signed by almost 2500 people calling on Auckland Transport to change their decision to erase Birkenhead Transport's 80 years of history with the stroke of a paintbrush.

There are a lot more transport issues we could be spending that money on instead of painting buses.

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Organiser Karen Goa said the fleet of 75 orange and cream buses was part of the neighbourhood's identity which she felt was being lost in the Super City.

Dark buses are also difficult to spot at night, she said.

Last week, Mrs Goa had a meeting with Auckland Transport bus manager Brendon Main and she told the Herald while she felt she was listened to, it was apparent they were unlikely to change their minds.

Mrs Goa said she suggested co-branding so the buses could stay orange and cream but also feature the AT Metro logo, but she felt that idea was not warmly received.

The petition is supported by Northcote MP Dr Jonathan Coleman, who said in his 11 years in local politics, he had never received so much feedback from one issue.

"It's a shame to stamp out all this local character across this city when there doesn't seem to be any good reason to do so."

Birkenhead resident Krysia Drecki thought that the paint jobs were "ridiculous".

"Especially how much money they're spending in the project. The yellow buses are so familiar to me now, it's the only way I know what bus to catch because any Birkenhead bus takes me home. It'll be a sad day when they are all painted blue."

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said having buses all marked with one brand meant operators could bid for services outside of their traditional brand.

For example, Howick and Eastern won a big contract to operate in South Auckland and operating under the AT Metro brand meant "there is no confusion for its new customers".

AT Metro is the single unified brand for the region's public transport system across rail, bus and ferry.

Mr Hannan said a common naming convention, brand and colour scheme would define Auckland's public transport for both locals and the increasing numbers of tourists.

Dr Coleman urged anyone who took issue with the paint jobs to contact the chief executive of Auckland Transport, Dr David Warburton.