Last week while passing the Howick and Eastern Buses depot in Botany I was somewhat concerned to see two of the buses had been repainted all over in blue and with large "Metro" logos prominent on the sides. I hope that this is not some new move by Auckland Transport as it will fall upon ratepayers' shoulders to pay for the totally unnecessary fleet repaint. Howick and Eastern Buses have always presented their fleet in tip top condition and it is nice to be standing at a busy bus-stop in Greenlane and be able to spot your "Howick" bus coming. Phoebe, can you find out whether this "repainting" is a new AT policy or not?

Chris Cameron, East Auckland.

I not only can, I have, and in double quick time because you said such nice things, Chris.

It was announced in December that Auckland Transport is going for a consistent brand, but only as the vehicles come up for routine repainting. Thus, in time, your H&E bus will become just another one among many.

Over the next three years the branding will be phased in, starting with the LINK services and the Northern Express.

Auckland Transport's general manager of AT Metro, Mark Lambert, says having a single public transport network will ultimately build public confidence in the developing and improving system. "Knowing that all the services are integrated and part of the same system will help grow patronage."

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The branding will mean common livery across public transport vehicles but differentiated by colour depending on the type of service.

The implementation of the livery is under way on the electric trains. Costs for the bus fleet will be kept to a minimum through retention of ocean blue for Rapid Network services (Northern Express is already this colour), and retention of red, green, orange and light blue for existing targeted services of the City LINK, Inner LINK, Outer LINK and Airbus.

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