Council buses win for operator

By: Amie Hickland

A New Zealand operator is running two bargain buses successfully after a local council was unable to

A New Zealand operator who bought two financially unviable buses from a local council is currently running the iconic vehicles as part of a charter tour business.

Napier’s Mark Scofield, of Double Decker Transport, now runs the two buses under the banner of Deco City Discoverer Buses.

Scofield bought the two 1996 yellow American school buses from Napier City Council for $20,000 each.

The two art deco style buses were imported from America to council as part of a new hop on hop off service from the centre of the city to the seaside suburb of Ahuriri, according to Scofield.

He says the buses were in operation with council for just over a year, but the service did not make money and was not patronised very well.

Napier City Council chief executive officer Wayne Jack says it is clear the business model has not gone as well as anticipated in 2014.

"The council had advice from a leading transport consultant that these buses would be an asset," Jack says.

"That is proving not to be the case, despite our best efforts. While the feedback from people who have used the buses is really positive, the traveller numbers are not high enough and therefore it is timely to look at options for the buses."

Scofield decided to bid on the vehicles for $20,000 each when the tender came available – although he did not expect to win.

The art deco design was done by MBD Design in France before they were refurbished in California, US.

Scofield hasn’t experienced any major maintenance issues but did replace the starter motor one bus and has had a couple of minor electrical faults.

He now runs the buses on local tours, wine trails, cruise ship tours, general charter and wedding transport.

"The first 12 months has been great fun and I have survived," says Scofield.

"They are unique and very popular with the locals now."

The buses were built by Thomas Built Buses, in North Carolina, US.

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