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.

The Walfisch 57 double decker triple-bendy bus.
The Walfisch 57 double decker triple-bendy bus.

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 revised route 999 map.
The revised route 999 map.

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!”.

He continued:

“…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”.

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40 comments

  1. No no no no no. They forgot about schools! The bus route also needs to serve Birkeneskglenheaddalefield North school as well as all the others in the area. Right up to the gate(s). We’ll need bigger school gates.

    1. As a consequence of serving North Shore schools all ingress and exit from the Walfisch between 4:32am and 9:00am and between 3:15pm and 6:00pm will be via the front door only.

  2. The relevant metric is weight per axle. This bus should be fine without upgrades. However, a number of intersections will need widening and many pohutukawa will need to be chopped down.

    (Bravo. That route map is a thing of beauty – is that before or after the AT consultation?)

  3. I’m a little concerned you haven’t managed to obtain an opinion on this innovation neither from a spokesperson for the Northcote Residents’ Association nor from George Wood. While the former may well support the decision to employ heritage colours in the new bus’s livery I suspect they may be a little concerned that the bus will bring passengers who do not fit in with the delicate social balance of one of Auckland’s more desirable purlieus (80% us and 20% staff), with its stunning views over the Northern Motorway. It’s entirely possible that these less than desirable passengers may wish to avail themselves of the service in Northcote itself, driving there in their own motor vehicles, parking and thus displacing the efforts of local residents to ensure their streets are parked with a tasteful selection of carefully colour co-ordinated late model Audis, Mercedes Benzes and other top marque vehicles. As Mr Wood will agree, such a proposal might mark the beginning of the end: the arrival of the anti-Christ and the foreshadowing of the Apocalypse. Something must be done.

    1. Northcote point may get its own cream coloured mercedes shuttle bus depending on outcome of public consultation.

  4. Good to see BT keeping faith with current routes. They STILL won’t use the ‘new’ (12yo) bridge linking Kapitiki Rd to Beach Haven Rd. Grateful Beach Haven customers who presently enjoy the 1 hour and 10 minute, two-bus trip to Glenfield Mall won’t have to suffer a 10 minute ride to the Mall across the long-ignored bridge. Besides..they can walk to the mall in 25 minutes or less if they are in that much of a hurry.

  5. I think the route needs to go back to Highbury a couple more times before crossing the bridge. The bus will need a central stabling location in between its two runs a day – I suggest a “circling the wagons” formation around the Northcote Tavern to protect the premises from cyclists.

    1. Now your combining two pet hates of crusty old white Auckland suburbanites at once – PT and apartments. Next, the Antichrist (of course, for some of them, that’s Len Brown, so you have the trifecta).

  6. No one in Beach Haven wants to get on a 27 stage bus at 4.30 in the morning to get to town at 9.30 :’D good job Birkenhead Transport, great joke 😛

  7. Why not have this service on weekends as well. Then it could have multi door opening as it would not need to have the school restriction

  8. Be great to see cars overtaking this oversized bus. I’d be clicking my mobi on this one definitely. Hopefully no tagging on this beauty. Driver wouldn’t be able to see trouble inside this bus. Safety wise is a concern

  9. Fantastic idea, but the roadway space for its route,including over the Harbour Bridge, must be dedicated as a Bus Lane to minimise hold-ups by motorists, That means for the other 99.9% of the time the Base Lanes can become cycle lanes, solving SkyPath and ACN delivery for Kaipatiki in one fell swoop!

  10. If North Shore Transport Co Ltd were still going, they would have built something like this using old Leyland and ex-NZRRS Mack parts!

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