Some  consider it a kitschy symbol of everything that is great about Auckland. Others  consider it a kitschy symbol of everything that is wrong with Auckland. But, love it or hate it, no one can gaze upon the Kelly Tarlton’s shark bus and remain unmoved.

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The bus operates as a free shuttle between Kelly Tarlton’s and Quay St – handy for tourists who are staying in town but want to see the aquarium. Kelly Tarlton’s obviously consider that the bus brings in enough extra customers that it’s worth the expense of running it. And it certainly has a profile. The shark bus even has a Facebook page dedicated to it, with 199 “likes”.

I’m aware of at least two other free shuttles which are run by Auckland tourist attractions: Dress Smart in Onehunga and the Auckland Fish Market. But I don’t think either of them has got the same impact as the shark bus, and both of them are quite a bit smaller – essentially minivan size. Nonetheless, it shows that shuttles can be successfully run on a commercial basis, although the opportunities for doing so are likely to be at the niche level. Fewer major companies are running shuttles these days, as the overheads are often too high to justify them.

This brings us nicely on to one of Auckland’s other well-known shuttle users, Auckland Transport. Here’s hoping that AT decides to cancel the shuttles when they finish their six-month trial. Surely it would be a better fit with their goals and leadership role to encourage their staff to take public transport instead, not to mention that it would give staff a better understanding of public transport issues.

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32 comments

  1. Kelly Tarlton’s Shuttle is more than just a transport mode,
    It is a huge mobile billboard for their business. having it running up and down quay street has got to be some of the most effective advertising they can have…

      1. You do know Len Brown is the mayor and not an employee of AT – which is itself directly responsible to the Government rather than the Auckland Council itself.

    1. AT represents roads and more roads so it should be coated in tarseal and leave a greasy unpleasant trail in its wake, much like the after taste upon reading AT’s response to anything you raise with them.

    1. I think more as a result of the hopeless legibility of the current services. Regulars know to catch a 7XX from Tyler St, but how would a tourist know to jump on a bus to Panmure, Glen Innes, Otahuhu or wherever else these services ramble off too.
      New network will be great for this, as long as has some great maps at Britomart.

        1. Steve D you have just won the thread, if you live in the CBD or Henderson your prize will be delivered by AT shuttle bus later tonight. If you live outside those areas it will be delivered by regular bus once the organisers can work out which route to put it on.

          1. Excellent. If they do figure out which buses go near my house, I hope they share that, since I’d like to know as well.

            Also is the prize a chocolate shark?

  2. Sky City runs a shuttle so does Auckland Council, AUT, Unitec…imagine if we could gather together all the shuttles and the money that runs them and make them into useful services.

    1. Abolish personal ownership of transit, replace with 24/7 on demand taxis, and delivery drivers. Combine with apps, and phones. Uber and Hailo, spring to mind.

      The money we’d save collectively, on our investment in rust.

    2. It’s quite common for tertiary education providers to run staff and student shuttles between their campuses. Campuses can be connected via public transport – Victoria subsidizes student and staff travel on buses between their four main campuses – but catching a bus from Unitec’s Mt Albert campus to Albany would be difficult.

      Incidentally, Unitec also runs a shuttle from the Mt Albert train station to the centre of the Mt Albert campus, which is bloody handy (disclaimer: I work there)

  3. No, Auckland Transport is a council-controlled organisation funded largely by ratepayers. Auckland Council appoints the board and has overall control of the organisation. So Len Brown is appropriate.

      1. That’s right, the term “Council controlled organisation” is very misleading. Far more accurate to describe it as a “Brownlee controlled organisation” and have the media beating up on Gerry instead of Len.

      2. The government initially appointed the board when the Super City was set up. But that was a one off four years ago. The appointment power belongs to the council, and every board member has now been appointed or reappointed by your elected councillors.

          1. Can someone illuminate the purpose of the board, at AT?

            If the council, do appoint them, you’d imagine they do so, to carry out the wishes of the council.

            If that is the case, can the council, not just talk to the people who actually run AT? I imagine we also employ people there, who do the actual work, although I’ll confess, I have not researched the matter.

            We could the eliminate an unnecessary board, and perhaps put the money towards mowing grass, although , like transit, it would make sense for the council to mow all the grass, and save everyone, from having to invest in mowers, as well.

          2. > …And yet the mix of board members remains essentially the same as when AT was first set up?!?

            Because the councillors you and I voted for are happy with the direction AT was and is going in.

            If we’re not happy with it, we need to talk to our councillors, and vote them out if they don’t change things.

        1. Auckland Council only ever gets to appoint two directors to AT (currently Mike Lee & Christine Fletcher). Here’s what AT’s website says:

          Auckland Transport’s activities are directed and guided at a strategic level by the board of directors:

          – Five directors are appointed by the government to the board of Auckland Transport and will serve a term of one to three years with none serving longer than three years.
          – A further two directors are appointed by the Auckland Council to serve on the board during their council term.
          – A representative from the New Zealand Transport Authority serves as an advisor to the board.

          1. That information is out of date. It reflects how the board was appointed initially in 2010 when the Super City was set up.

            But now the council is running, Auckland Council (in the CCO Strategy Review Subcommittee) appoints all of the voting members of the board, exactly the same as for every other Council-Controlled Organisation. The longest term for any initial board member was 3 years, so every current AT board member was either appointed or reappointed by our elected councillors.

        2. Auckland Transport is required by a law passed by Natiobal to give effect to the Government Policy Statement on transport spending. As such they are controlled by government not by council. So no Len Brown is not appropriate.

          1. Sooo,
            If we replace the Shark design with a Huge Gerry Brownlee, his mouth wide open like the shark mouth is in the Kelly Tarlton’s shuttle to privde forward vision for the driver, then that would be appropriate for the AT shuttles ya think?

  4. thanks John, this made me laugh out loud for so many reasons. Yay for Transport Blog, if I do say so myself. And this wins my award for best “photo of the day”, simply because that shark *is* hilarious.

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