Questions over Art Deco buses

Not everyone is happy about the Napier City Council's bus plan."Napier City Council's" (I use quotation marks, because we only ever hear our mayor as spokeswoman on all the big issues these days) misguided decision to spend $1.5 million on Art Deco buses got some more publicity recently.

But amongst all the fanfare, there is very little key information being provided: Who will run the service? Who will receive the profits if it succeeds, or carry the debt if it fails? How much will it cost to ride on and where, precisely, will it go? And what happens if in six months no one is using it anymore?

Hawke's Bay Regional Council, meanwhile, is trialing a new Napier-to-Ahuriri service of its own, called the Hopper, from October 17.


Its bus "will have distinctive bright artwork on its sides, reflecting scenes from the route the service will take". Its route has been revealed to include parts of Napier Hill as well as Ahuriri and West Shore and a single trip fare will be $3 for adults, $2 for tertiary students and Community Services cardholders, and $1.50 for children, high school students and seniors.

"The trial will run for a period of six months. Passenger statistics will be collected monthly and closely monitored. We hope the service proves to be popular and then we will consider making it permanent. However, given the funding constraints we're currently facing, it really will be a case of use it or lose it," says regional councillor Alan Dick, chairman of the regional transport committee in HBRC's press release. Doesn't that seem like a better way to approach things? It would probably work out about $1 million cheaper, too!

Mayor [Barbara] Arnott says NCC's new buses would provide "opportunities to work with local businesses to encourage visitors to get out and explore and learn more, and possibly stay longer".

Hmm "Work with local businesses", eh? What a great plan that would be! Then why, pray tell, are these buses "designed by MBD in France", "will be built using the chassis and framework of existing American Thomas school buses (the big, old, yellow ones like Otto drives in The Simpsons) by HB Industries in San Diego, California" and the council earlier worked with "transport and engineering consultants GHD" (whose closest office is in Palmerston North, by the way). Where's the local business love there?

If the photo is anything to go by, the new buses look a bit plastic and tacky, don't they? But what do I know?

They are, apparently, a tribute to the almighty Art Deco and designed by professionals. So was the AMP building on Napier's Hastings St, wasn't it? And look what's happening to that.

Andrew Frame, Napier