Yesterday Auckland Transport announced that a date had been set for the start of ferry services to Hobsonville and Beach Haven.

Auckland’s latest ferry service, connecting Hobsonville Point in Upper Harbour and Beach Haven in Kaipatiki with the Downtown Ferry Terminal and the Britomart transport hub, will start on Monday 4 February.

The service will be operated by 360 Discovery Ltd and will run on weekdays between Hobsonville Point and Auckland’s Downtown Ferry Terminal.

Auckland Transport’s Manager, Public Transport Services, Mark Lambert, says, “It is very gratifying providing ferry services, with our operator, 360 Discovery, for the major new housing development being built at Hobsonville Point. The services will be useful for work, school and leisure, offering an easy and pleasant link between Hobsonville, Beach Haven and the city.

“The vessel is Discovery II an 80 seat catamaran which is currently undergoing refurbishment ready for the start date”.

Hobsonville Land Company Chief Executive, Chris Aiken says; “The launch of the ferry service is the result of our vision, shared by Auckland Transport, to provide our residents with a fast and pleasant way to travel into Downtown Auckland. We are extremely pleased with the design of the new wharf which adds character and interest to our beautiful waterfront area”.

Mr Lambert says, “Two morning and three afternoon services will operate each week day. Morning services will operate from Beach Haven from 6.50am and will end in Hobsonville at 6.45pm. Adult ticket prices for Hobsonville Point will cost $12 cash fare one way or $9.20 with an AT HOP card. Child fares will cost $7.20 cash fare or $6.48 with an AT HOP card.

“Adult ticket prices for Beach Haven to Auckland will cost $8.00 cash fare or $6.40 with an AT HOP card. Child fares will cost $4.80 cash fare or $4.32 with an AT HOP card”.

Mr Lambert says, “Both Hobsonville Point and Beach Haven will have brand new ferry wharves. Hobsonville at a cost of $3.2 million with a $900,000 contribution from the Hobsonville Land Company and Beach Haven will cost $1.2m.

Mayor Len Brown is confident of strong public support for the new services. “Aucklanders are looking for alternatives. These services will provide commuters from Upper Harbour and Kaipatiki with a convenient and very pleasant alternative to motorway gridlock. It’s all part of our plan to provide transport choices for Aucklanders as part of our integrated transport plan.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse says, “Good public transport in new developments is a top priority for Auckland Council, so we are delighted with Hobsonville Land Company’s and Auckland Transport’s investment and work in this regard”.

The service from Hobsonville Point to down will take 30 minutes. The service from Beach Haven takes 40 minutes.

The Chairs of the Kaipatiki and Upper Harbour are also right behind the new service.

Construction work at Beach Haven means access to the boat ramp there may be restricted or closed during January.

Fare and timetable information will be available on the Auckland Transport website from early next year.

Now I like hearing about new PT services but the details perhaps show some of the complexities of providing ferry services compared to buses. Initially there will only be two sailings in the morning and 3 in the evening, that doesn’t leave a lot of options and means for that many, it will simply not be a convenient enough service. As an example, only working half a day, well you will likely either have to wait for a few hours in town or find another way home. Want to stay for a few drinks or dinner after work would have the same result. I worry that this will struggle to get on going patronage, especially when you also consider the fares that are going to be charged.

Cash fares from Hobsonville of $12 and $8 from Birkenhead with HOP users paying $9.20 or $6.40 respectively. Those are some pretty hefty fares when you consider that the respective fares on HOP for catching a bus would be $6.12 and $5.04. At Beach Haven at least there is also a bus that travels from the wharf all the way to the city with a number of other routes nearby which combined provide quite a high frequency. Even odder is that those from Beach Haven pay less than the Hobsonville folk even though they have a longer trip, perhaps an acknowledgement that there are more bus services to compete with. Based on the press release it appears that the trip from Beach Haven may even end up slower than some of the bus routes as the 972 for example is scheduled to take about 35 minutes vs 40 on the ferry.

Beach Haven Buses
I counted at least 10 buses leaving at Beach Haven between 7-8am on AT’s journey planner

I know some people would much prefer catching a ferry to a bus but I guess the question is how many are prepared to do so given the cost, infrequent service and potentially longer trip time. Perhaps it will attract a few people who wouldn’t catch PT otherwise but I really wonder if we are getting good value for money with this. Hopefully I’m proven wrong and the service is a success along with the likely less subsided buses not being impacted.

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  1. Beachhaven to the city is three stage so only $4.50 (or 40.50 with concession card which I assume will translate to 4.05 on AT HOP). You should ammend you post!

  2. Well it appears it depends on what bus you take, Looking up the journey planner it shows that the 972 bus that leaves from 26 Beach Haven Rd which is about 100m up the road from the ferry terminal costs $5.60 so in that regard the post is correct. Perhaps it is one of those weird fare zone things.

    1. I’m pretty sure that is not correct but that is what the website states. I cant find where on the site it say where the zones are but I though they were at Highbury and the Harbour Bridge making all trips from Beachhaven only a three stage.

  3. So Auckland Transport is paying $1.2m to build a wharf so that they can subsidise a Ferry that will take longer and cost more than a fully commercial bus route (I assume buses are fully commercial during peak times when the Ferry is operating). Genius.

    I also note that most people will also have to travel to the Ferry terminal, yet will probably be closer to the CBD via the bus route, making the journey time for Buses even more favourable.

    Plus buses have multiple stops in the CBD which give more flexibility compared to the the single downtown ferry terminal.

    Will be interesting to see how popular it is – especially from Beachhaven wharf.

      1. I think you may be right but that is probably because by passenger number, Waiheke and Devonport and Bayswater make up the majority of trips and they normally run at very good capacity (therefore needing less subsidy).

        My point is there is no reason to run a subsidised service when an existing comparable service operates. This applies to Beachhaven.

        1. The Waiheke Ferry receives no subsidy. Also you are making several assumptions above such as a) that the bus is not subsidised and b) that the ferry is subsidised. Unless you have proof either way it could well be that the ferry is costing less per passenger than the bus is.

          1. I am making an assumption that the Ferry is subsidised.

            On the buses, having sat on one regularly during peak hour, I can almost say categorically that there is no subsidy (It depends on what runs are bundled together to determine the subsidy but AT would not be attributing any subsidy to peak hour runs)

          2. However the bus is then subsidised for the rest of the day – so based on your logic those services should all be withdrawn as well?

          3. Yes, they should be withdrawn IF the are duplicating a service that is cheaper and more efficient.

            Wouldn’t it be better if those funds were used to provide/ subsidise a service to people who don’t currently have any public transport options.

      2. Devonport and Waikeke are unsubsidised, the remainder are heavily subsidised. On average the subsidy appears low, but only on the strength of the two routes that really work.

        1. Waiheke passengers pay a wharf tax (a non-road congestion charge in disguise) that has financed all the wharves around the region. So thank those rich bitches on the rock for your good fortune in getting a subsidised ferry service and wharf construction.

    1. There are two morning services, starting at 6.50am. Since it is only one Boat, and based on the journey times, I assume it will be:

      6.50 Beachhaven
      7.00 Hobsonville
      7.30 City
      8.00 Beachhaven
      8.10 Hobsonville
      8.40 City

  4. Surely the pricing difference between bus and ferry from beachaven is temporary. As soon as integrated ticketing and zoning happens it won’t matter what mode of transport u take from a zone to another zone, the fare is the same.

          1. I think that is part of it, plus AT can’t put the ferries under PTOM contracting as the companies have claimed that they are effectively tourist services. That means AT has very little control over things i.e. they can’t tender the routes out like they can with buses or control the contracting like trains.

          2. They don’t get a subsidy Hamish. The two subsidy free commercial routes account for something like 90% of ferry trips between them. The other ferry routes are basically window dressing.

          3. @ Nick R

            I am talking about the other services that aren’t subsidised, how come they aren’t part of PTOM? Or are they, but AT won’t integrate them into the new fare system?

          4. I guess if you included them as part of integrated fares, those from Devonport and Waiheke would rightly ask why they weren’t also included. Probably easiest just to leave ferries out all together.

  5. Waiheke should have three levels of fares. Zone based for monthly HOP passes, so is same price as fares to Pukekohe. Tourist charging (higher than now) can cover one off fares, however should be a HOP discount (aimed at locals) that is much higher than usual for buses/trains.

  6. The limited morning and evening services are critical. This was one of the key reasons rail to Helensville failed – it was simply too inflexible to trouble yourself with.

    Also, in regards to cost: the West Harbour ferry runs every half hour – much more regular and faster than a bus from the same place – but at $14 for a return trip, hardly anyone used the ferry, and at over an hour most of the time, hardly anyone took the bus.

    1. Louis, have you actually been on a ferry in a serrious westerly? There are days that the Birkenhead ferry doesn’t stop at Northcote Point because it’s too rough to berth safely.

      However on a beautiful day the ferry is a blissful way to get to work.

  7. Living in beach haven, I’ve been really looking forward o catching the ferry – however the first sailing time is too late for me to get to work on time 🙁 also, if the second sailing is indeed going to arrive in the city at 8:40, that will make most people who start work at 8:30 late for work too. The whole schedule needs to be shifted 15-20 minutes earlier. As for not being included in integrating ticketing – this is a typical example of bumbling council incompetency that started with removing train capacity from the harbour bridge and has now plagued Auckland for the best part of a century! And they have the nerve to claim Auckland is a ‘world class city’ what a joke

  8. I just posted a similar rant on my FB page but here it is again: Just like Iain and other posters, I was really excited for the new ferry service but now I’m thinking, “I might as well stick with the bus.” And I HATE the bus. I mean, HATE it. I was SO excited for this service and was fully prepared to pay more for it. But it’s if no thought has gone into making this a viable alternative to the bus. Is it that tough?! The bus is awful! And if *I* feel this way, others will definitely feel this way, which means it’ll fail and $1.2 million tax dollars will go to waste. Jeremy makes an excellent point about lessons learnt (or not?) from the Helensville train.

    I really hope they reconsider the schedule and launch with more convenient times.

  9. I live in Beach Haven (top end) and work in Hobsonville, it will be the perfect way to get across the ditch without having to drive right around. My only concern is what they will charge for the 5 minute crossing. Logic may not pay a part in it, but apart from that, ferry commuting isn’t a bad way to travel. When I used to use the Devonport ferry (Kestrel), I was able to sit outside and enjoy a rum and coke on the way home from work. Where else can one do that without breaking the law?

    I really hope this service works and they rethink the pricing if enough people use the service.

  10. I live a 5 minute walk from Beach Haven wharf. At present I drop my kids at daycare, then drive to Birkenhead wharf, where I catch the ferry to downtown. I pay $39 for a 10 trip pass. The drive to Birkenhead, parking and catching the ferry takes no longer than 25-30 minutes. I was also very excited by this ferry scheduled for Beach Haven, but am now incredibly disappointed by the time schedule and fares. I can’t justify paying an extra $40 a week, and longer commute to catch the ferry from Beach Haven – even if it is just a 5 minute walk from home. Very disappointed indeed.

  11. I went and had a look at Hobsonville over the long weekend. I do wonder how they will measure success for the new ferry as from what I could see, it is not intended to be a commercial success (i am not saying that as a bad thing).

    There are very few houses out there at the moment. From that small catchment, only a few will work in the CBD (isn’t CBD only about 15% of workforce), from that even smaller group, only a few will have work hours that fit into the rather limited starting schedule. Therefore, it must be some form of proof of concept – trying to encourage more people to settle into the area – which will hopefully allow them to increase the frequency and reduce the price, therefore encouraging even more to catch it.

    The area of the wharf is also a bit confusing. From my understanding of the master plan, the landing is supposed to accommodate the ferry wharf, cafes/bars/etc, wharf for super yachts/marine industrial park and a wharf for pleasure boats. Seems a few to many things for me which would distract from the attractiveness of the area for a communter.

    Will be interesting to see how it turns out.

    I still don’t think the $1.2m for Beachhaven wharf is money well spent but can only assume they hope to get a few passengers to make the numbers look a bit better till Hobsonville takes off.

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