The tour buses’ route starts at the Baiterek monument, then goes through the central square, the Palace of Students, the Zher Ana monument, the Nazarbayev Centre, the Duman entertainment centre, the city park, the Museum of the First President, Arailym park, Khan Shatyr mall and KazMediaCentre. There are currently only two sightseeing double-decker buses in Kazakhstan, but there are plans to introduce them in Almaty next year.
Astana’s double-decker buses are running on a “hop on, hop off” system, meaning passengers who buy tickets can get off and on an unlimited number of times per day. Buses run from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.
“Tourists can hop off at any place to see interesting sights and hop on another bus. The interval between bus routes will be about 30 minutes,” says President of the Menin Elim Association for the Development of Internal Tourism Gaukhar Zhenisbek.
“These buses are slow; this will allow passengers to see the sights of Astana, enjoying the view of the streets of the capital from the second floor. Interior capacity is more than 50 people,” Zhenisbek said. She said the buses were produced at a Shanghai plant that is considered the leading world producer of these buses.
A standard ticket is 2,400 tenge ($16). Students, pensioners and participants in the Great Patriotic War will get discounts. Tickets for children under 10 years old are 1,200 tenge ($8) and children under five years of age ride free.
“The price of a trip like this in other parts of the world is around 30 euros; our tourist buses are much cheaper. After all, the ticket will be valid for the day,” Zhenisbek commented.
Buses will operate through the winter with the second level covered with a transparent tent. 10 buses are planned to be purchased by the end of 2014.
The double-decker bus project is being implemented by the Menin Elim Association for the Development of Internal Tourism in cooperation with Astana city hall and the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of Kazakhstan.