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.
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.