Some good news today with the first Howick & Eastern double decker operating from today.

double decker3

East Aucklanders are the first to get the benefit of a new fleet of double decker buses, being rolled out from today.

Until now their use has been restricted to the Northern Busway, but this morning the first double decker bus has gone into service in the Botany area.

The first trip departed Botany Shopping Centre travelling to Britomart along the 500 Route. The service is being operated for Auckland Transport by Howick & Eastern Buses Ltd.

Sheryll Otway from Howick & Eastern says the company is very proud of this new addition to its fleet. “We are investing in 15 double deckers and it’s great to see this first one hitting the road.”

She says residents in the east are going to notice a big difference. “These buses have improved seating, USB charging points and in time will have on-board WiFi and infotainment systems.”

Auckland Transport General Manager AT Metro Mark Lambert says over the next few months double deckers will become a regular sight in Auckland. “Howick & Eastern will have their 15 running to the east, Ritchies will eventually have 15 crossing the harbour bridge and NZ Bus has plans for 23 buses. It’s an exciting time for bus users in Auckland.”

Sheryll Otway says the first Howick & Eastern double decker will be on the Mission Heights to Britomart return trip. “Thirteen of the buses are being built by Kiwi Bus Builders Ltd in Tauranga so we’re pleased to support a New Zealand manufacturer.”

Mayor Len Brown says today’s launch is part of an exciting transport transformation across Auckland’s east. “The introduction of double deckers is another sign of the phenomenal growth in public transport patronage in Auckland requiring innovative solutions to cope with demand.

“Other investment in Auckland’s east includes the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative or AMETI – a $1.5 billion investment to keep that part of Auckland moving. The first stage of AMETI has already been rolled out and includes the Panmure bus and train station. That will be followed a second stage between Panmure and Pakuranga providing a busway, cycle lanes and better roads. Eventually the busway will extend all the way to Botany along Te Rakau Drive and will carry more passengers than the Northern Busway on the North Shore.”

Bus services in Auckland totalled 60.2million passenger boardings for the 12 months to September, an annual increase of 5.7%.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the inaugural trip however I have seen the bus before and even had a brief look inside. The quality seemed very high and probably better than the double deckers used on the NEX services.

One interesting aspect is that there are no steps on the ground level instead the floor slowly ramps up all the way to the back of the bus. Due to this it has created an interesting setup with the seating which is to deal with the rear wheels. In effect second and forth to last rows of seats face backwards.

The biggest thing I wasn’t so keen on was that a screen has been in the middle of the upstairs windscreen which kind of hampers the view forward for anyone not in the first row.

double decker 1

Overall this and the buses to follow will be welcome and much needed additions to Auckland as people on some routes having to watch multiple buses go past their stop completely full.

H&E Double Decker

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    1. Most buses have a more floor section then a couple of steps past the back door to the back seats. This higher section is to deal with the wheel arch. This bus just has a ramp all the way to the back seat
      There are on course stairs to the upper section

      1. Ah ok I understand now, that makes sense. I was confused and thought you were referring to the stairs to the top deck lol.

  1. Now Auckland Transport needs to invest on bike racks for buses. We need to assimilate bikers with public transport, it is done with trains and ferries, now buses need to follow suit.

      1. Seems to work OK in Toronto. The process of loading the bike is so simple that you can have your bike locked and loaded well before everyone else is done getting on. (OTOH, while you’re technically allowed bikes on offpeak streetcars and subways, that doesn’t work so well.)

        I’m agnostic on whether it’s something Auckland should pursue, but it doesn’t have to cause dwell times from hell.

      2. If you have lots of other passengers they are busy boarding themselves while you are loading your bike. Then you can join the queue to board yourself. Same in reverse at the other end; get off before the other passengers. It’s no worse than the delay in loading a wheelchair or pram.

    1. Aucklanders should start looking into folding bicycles which can be carried onto public transport to aid with commuting. Very popular in bigger cities such as London

      1. completely agree. The solution is to modify the bicycle and/or personal mobility device so that they can easily be carried onto the bus – not modify the bus.

        Lots of innovation in this space with the advent of electric battery technology, e.g. solo wheel.

  2. Excellent news. Double-deck buses are great… more efficient (1x driver, not taking up as much road space), and they are good for passenger experience… longer distance – sit up stairs and enjoy the view, shorter distance – stay downstairs for quick access.
    All we need on our buses now is a system like iBus to keep passengers informed… really helpful for those that don’t bus often or are taking a different bus.

  3. Why are there two long handles on the front of the bus? Is that so drivers can crash through shop verandas and overhanging foliage without fear? Also I noticed on Market Road/Great South Road the shop verandas have been all been clipped back to about 1m in depth (basically they are now useless for shelter). Is that because doubledeckers could hit them?

  4. The exterior “Grab bars” on the upper front tells me they are still concerned about overhanging detritus, trees, balconies and verandas, etc, Hopefully they can avoid dinging these on anything….

  5. a friend posted on Facebook that he was waiting to go home to Highbury when a blue/gray bus stopped rather than a Birkenhead beige one. He found this confusing, clearly AT nees to put more info out on the new livery as more buses arrive in the new colours.

  6. What I want to know is “how comfortable are the seats?”

    Have been surprised how firm the seats are on the trains. The people making the decisions obviously never need to sit on the train for 45 min! The H+E buses will have similar travel times for many passengers.

    1. Bah, so everyone says but I beg to differ, I hate firm seats, yet the padding on the EMU’s seems a lot thicker than the almost non-existent padding on the diesels IMO, the only upside to the diesels were the seats were larger and a bit more supportive. In the EMU’s I can do Swanson to Papakura and still be comfortable, in the diesels I would of had a sore back for the rest of the day…

  7. We need some of these on the New North and Sandringham Road routes. Last night as I was busing in to the CBD at 5.30pm I noticed that buses coming towards me were showing “Bus Full” signs before they had got to the end of Symonds St.

  8. when I lived in the UK one major problem was people going 2/3 stops would get on at the terminus, the bus would fill, passing people waiting and by the 3/4 stop would be nearly empty. Eg the letter above from Lindsey. This used to happen because people waiting to go 2/3/4 stops couldn’t be bothered to wait for their corporation bus, so they took the long range bus, went 2/4 stops, got off and the bus continued almost empty, leaving passengers going all the way with nowhere to go. We had to then get a corporation bus ahead iof our bus, so when the main bus came and almost emptied we could get on our long distance bus.

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