Double decker buses get the green light

Double decker buses get the green light

Double decker buses will soon be seen on Auckland roads under new Government changes.

New rules will allow the "high-capacity" buses in urban areas, starting in Auckland but moving to other cities, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.

NZ Bus has already bought 23 Enviro500 double decker buses for use in Auckland.

Changes to the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass rule will allow local government and other road-controlling authorities to issue permits for the buses, which Mr Bridges says will help increase public transport use.

"High capacity buses will put extra seats on key routes, particularly during peak periods — improving efficiency on public transport routes that are reaching capacity and playing a significant role in dealing with city congestion," he says.

Wellington councils are currently assessing the viability of the buses for the region.

NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames says the new buses demonstrate its commitment to supporting Auckland Transport's goals to transform the public transport network.

Fifteen of the buses will be used along Mt Eden Rd, while eight buses will be used on the 881 service on the North Shore.

The company says both routes are seeing passenger growth, and the introduction of the double-deckers will increase capacity by 30 percent.

The new buses will be assembled at Kiwi Bus Builders plant in Tauranga and are expected to be in service between April and July next year.

Before the rule change, buses had to be modified to meet New Zealand standards as well as carry fewer passengers, which meant increased costs and lost productivity.

The new rule would allow buses to exceed the current axle weight limits by up to 1500kg, with the potential to get heavier. This would allow the vehicles to carry more people.

A larger review will also look at the potential to have heavier buses to do inter-city routes.

The heavier buses will pay higher road user charges to account for the greater road maintenance costs involved.

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