Napier City councillors delivered a death sentence to their trouble-plagued Art Deco bus service but were able to find some humour in the demise of the ill-fated venture.

The council's finance committee backed a staff recommendation that the two specially made buses be sold after their CBD-Ahuriri route failed to attract forecast passenger numbers.

The Deco City Discoverer service was introduced as an alternative to trams, which were proposed by Ahuriri businesses as a tourist link to downtown Napier and Marine Parade.

Bought in France and customised in the US, the buses arrived in New Zealand in October 2012.


But multiple faults, bringing the council into dispute with the builders in the US, meant they were unable to be put into service until the end of last summer, missing thousands of potential passengers from cruise liners as well as Art Deco Weekend 2013 visitors.

Speaking at yesterday's meeting, councillor Faye White likened the council's experience with the Art Deco buses to that of a bad marriage.

"You go in with the best of intentions and no matter what you do it just doesn't come right," she said.

Councillor Rob Lutter added that, like a failed marriage, there had been "heavy maintenance" to pay and Mayor Bill Dalton said, as was the case with divorce, "you don't get all your assets back".

Councillor Michelle Pyke said: "The intention behind these buses was always going to be focused on Napier tourism and for that I'd like to say that it was a screaming success for everybody who rode the buses.

"I had the experience myself on Art Deco Weekend with 24 out-of-towners who were absolutely loving the ride and intending to use it for the whole weekend. So I do feel sad ... but it is time to draw curtains on our buses."

Councillor Keith Price said he originally voted in favour of buying the buses after the council received independent advice from consultants: "We were clearly told they were a viable option and that they would work and that's what we based a lot of our vote on at the time."

The service will cease after May 4 and the buses will go up for tender.