By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy H&E

BREAKING: Auckland's Howick and Eastern Buses has become part of Transdev Australasia’s New Zealand bus operations after the company reached financial settlement to purchase the iconic bus entity from Souter Investments, it’s been announced.

With its fleet of 145 buses, Howick and Eastern Buses currently operates 23 urban routes on behalf of Auckland Transport, Transdev confirms.

This acquisition follows the purchase of Wellington-based Mana Coach Services in October and reflects the global public mobility provider’s confidence in the public transport sector in New Zealand, as more Kiwis move towards more sustainable forms of transport, Transdev states.

The company already operates train services in Auckland on behalf of Auckland Transport, it confirms.

Transdev Australasia CEO Luke Agati says the acquisition of the company provides a great opportunity to strengthen public transport connections in New Zealand’s two biggest cities.

"We aim to offer commuters the best possible mobility solutions, and these acquisitions will mean that we are in a good position to support our clients improve connections between bus and train services in both Auckland and Wellington," Agati said.

With its fleet of 145 buses, Howick and Eastern Buses currently operates 23 urban routes on behalf of Auckland Transport. The business also provides school and general charter services, it’s confirmed.



At the time of the joint sale statement of intent earlier in August, 2019, Bill Rae, outgoing chairman of Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services, said: "Both Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services are recognised as industry leading urban bus operators, with first-class operational capabilities and strong long-term relationships with key stakeholders."

"Following significant capital investment and under the leadership of Sheryll Otway and Craig Chin, both Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services are well placed to continue playing a central role in the growth of sustainable, environmentally friendly public transport in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand’s two largest public transport markets."

Souter Investments acquired Mana Coach Services in 2007 and added Howick and Eastern Buses to its stable a year later. During Souter’s ownership, the businesses have fulfilled more than 95 million customer journeys and invested more than NZD$63 million in new vehicles.

Souter Investments retains ownership of Fullers360, which provides ferry and tourism services on Auckland Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf.

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The business has operated as a local company for more than 60 years and it has grown from two buses to more than 80, it states.

Founded by local man Tom Hadfield in 1939 at Eastern Beach, the company was originally called Eastern Buses. The company moved to Bucklands Beach 12 months later. Tom Hadfield died in 1952, but his legacy remained. With each passing year the company continued to grow, it explains.

In 1962 Eastern Buses took over Howick Buses and the combined fleet numbered 21.

Three generations have put their stamp on the family business; Hadfield’s daughter, Audrey Dalbeth, her husband, Lionel, and their son, Bill, have all worked for the company. Audrey Dalbeth has been company director since 1963 and Bill was made company manager in 1994.

In 2008 the Dalbeth family sold the business - which by then had grown to 130 buses - to Scots transport tycoon Sir Brian Souter of Souter Holdings Limited, where it had continued to be run as an independent company.

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Transdev is the region's leading multi-modal passenger transport provider, it states. Since 1998, Transdev has been at the heart of keeping communities moving, operating seven modes of public transport for customers across Australia and New Zealand, it adds.

In Australasia, Transdev has 6,160 people operating its 2,010 vehicles and vessels, which deliver more than 160 million customer journeys each year, it states.

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