Birkenhead Transport announced today that it is planning replace its entire fleet with a single triple-articulated double decker bus. The bus is 57m long and over 4m tall.
Owner, managing director and part time relief driver Max Headway had this to say:
“Birkenhead Transport is known as a forward looking innovator in the Auckland public transport sector, and this latest vehicle purchase backs up our reputation as industry leaders on the cutting edge of bus transit technology. This one bus can seat 726 people at a time, and it’s got wifi!”
The Birkenhead based bus company currently operates a large fleet of buses on seventeen different routes across Birkenhead, Northcote, Glenfield and Takapuna. The existing fleet will be scrapped, with the one new mega bus serving all previously timetabled destinations with a single route and departure per day.
The inbound route 999 will leave Verrans Corner at 4:32am on weekdays, proceeding to Birkdale, Beach Haven, Island Bay, Kauri Point, Chelsea, Highbury, Birkenhead Wharf, back to Highbury, Northcote, Northcote Point, back to Highbury again, Glenfield, Bayview, Sunnynook, Constellation, Rosedale, Albany, Massey University, back to Sunnynook, Smales Farm, Takapuna, North Shore Hospital and AUT North Shore Campus, before crossing the harbour bridge. It will then deliver passengers to Ponsonby, Karangahape Rd, Auckland Hospital, Grafton, Newmarket, Parnell and Hobson St before terminating near Britomart at a scheduled 9:21am.
The outbound bus will depart Britomart at 4:48pm and will follow the return route, arriving back at the Verrans Corner depot at exactly 9.33pm.
The company is confident it will continue to report 99.99% service reliability, while improving farebox recovery.
“We know what our customers want, and that is good coverage to every single street, everyone always getting a seat on the bus, and a direct one seat ride all the way. This innovative service model allows us to provide point to point service between any two bus stops in our area, so there is never a need to transfer.”
When asked about passengers who expect regular services and a fast trip, or those that might want to travel at other times of day, Mr Headway replied “it’s got wifi, and three bendy bus bits. Cool eh!”.
“…and we’ll be sticking with the good old BT livery. My old man bought up a big batch of beige and brown paint in 50s and we’ve still got a few tins out the back”.
All existing fare combinations will be maintained, so trips on the route will be charged between 1 and 27 stages depending on just how long they stay on board. As the 27 stage structure is incompatible with Auckland Transports HOP card technology, the route will feature an experimental payment system based around a sack of copper milk tokens found at the Mokoia Rd op shop.
The new bus is one of the new “Walfisch 57” model offered by German consortium Unglaublich Grossbusfabrik GMbH. Asia-Pacific Regional Marketing manager Kerlmit Falschenamen noted that the company could only offer one product line to the small New Zealand market, so the Walfisch was developed to offer the benefits of both double decker and articulated models offered overseas.
Weighing 147 tonnes, the new bus counts as a High Productivity Vehicle (HPMV) under the revised Land Transport Rule framework. A subclause in the law means the bus is legally considered four separate buses driving very close together, as the bus driver is unable to see past the first section anyway.
An NZTA representative indicated ‘only twelve or thirteen bridges’ will need replacing along the proposed route due to weight increases. When asked about funding for the upgrades, the NZTA staffer -who wished to remain anonymous- added “let’s hope there is a by election in Birkenhead soon”.