I had the opportunity to go to the opening of the Beach Haven and Hobsonville ferry wharfs today. While readers my know I have had my doubts on the services, primarily due to the limited sailings and steep prices, I do think that the infrastructure put in place does look good and of course cruising up the harbour on a ferry can be a pretty nice way to get to/from work. Our first stop on the ferry was at Beach haven for a quick ribbon cutting ceremony. Local board chair Lindsay Waugh gave a short speech about the project and at one point got a cheer when she said that the ferry will enable people to get to town and connect to the rest of Auckland using the CRL.

Beach Haven Terminal with Hobsonville in the background
Beach Haven wharf with Hobsonville in the background
The Beach Haven terminal waiting area
The Beach Haven wharf waiting area

After that it was time for a quick hop across to Hobsonville to open that wharf. We did get a little delayed though after having to turn back to Beach Haven due to leaving Len Brown behind. The Hobsonville wharf is quite nice, the waiting area is similar to above, albeit a bit larger. It is reached by a wonderful walkway which is lined with boards that talking about the areas natural and human history.

Hobsonville Wharf walkway
Hobsonville Wharf walkway
One thing I quite like is there is a bus stop just behind where I was standing meaning it is only a short transfer to the ferry.
One thing I quite like is there is a bus stop just behind where I was standing meaning it is only a short transfer to the ferry.
Hobsonville Ferry Wharf 4
Lots of people turned up for the opening

After the ribbon cutting it was time for more speeches which actually turned out to be interesting and a little bit insightful. First up we had Auckland Transports new chairman Lester Levy who gave a superb speech. He talked about the terminal but also how AT had to become better at customer service. He also covered off something I have been thinking about (and have mentioned in a few places), talking about how much of a change is happening to transport over the next few years. He is from a medical background and so used some medical examples, he said we weren’t just having a cosmetic peel that would make the skin look better for a while but that would eventually end up looking just the same, instead he said we were having major re-constructive surgery that will profoundly improve the quality of our lives. Some people may just think this is just talk but I have now met Lester a few times and I do think he is genuinely wants to improve transport in Auckland which is excellent and just what we need.

Next up was John Key who along with Len Brown opened the wharf. Perhaps the most interesting thing he talked about, and he mentioned this over at Beach Haven too, was how his son was starting at Auckland Uni this year. He mentioned about how there isn’t a heap of parking at the uni which makes it fairly expensive to park there. He said any student who drives in will soon become a very poor student due to those parking charges so it is important that options like PT still enable connectivity. It was good to hear him say this but I wasn’t 100% sure it wasn’t just another take on the old attitude that PT is just for students, poor people or the elderly. Lets just hope that his son becomes enlightened on urban issues and is able to pass his thoughts on to his father.

John Key Speech
Bit hard to get a good photo due to the light sorry

Len Brown spoke next and most of the stuff he talked about is probably similar to stuff he has said before so I’m not really going cover it in this post. Last up we had Adrienne Young-Cooper who is the chair of the Hobsonville Land Company, the organisation doing the development of the area. Perhaps the key thing she talked about was about how they hoped the development would enable people to live with one less car. She talked about how the costs of owning a car can easily be more than $8,000 per year and how enabling people to have one car instead or two, or two instead of three is something that can really help improve affordability.  That is something this blog really supports and something I think is a key reason why we need to improve our PT system. Hopefully she is also pushing that same message to some of the other boards she is on as amongst others, she is currently also on the board of the NZTA.

All up it was a really good day and there was quite a large number of people that turned up from the local community. If we could get even a quarter of them using the services then it will be a pretty outstanding success.

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  1. Sounds like it was a pretty popular event. Someone I spoke to who went said that even though it wasn’t late by the time they got there pretty much everything was already used up (sausages, face-paint etc.)

    I guess that’s a sign of success for the launch? Let’s just hope the service itself is successful.

    1. Hmm, free food,
      Now thats an idea to get people using PT in droves – provide free sausages.

      On a serious note though, sounds like from Keys comments on the TV news tonight and Lens comments, that maybe Key senses the mood of the population on PT and projects like the CRL better than Joyce or Brownlee ever could or do. Len said that the Auckland Council and Central Government are pretty much aligned but they disagree on the timing.
      Which is a pretty PollyAnna-ish way to see Brownlees response on the CCFAS – it wasn’t that Brownlee said “Not right now Auckland, we’ve got an Earthquake, but soon eh?”, he said “Not ever or anytime soon”.

      But now that Key’s son is becoming a PT user for a while we might see a [token] Road to Damascus experience from Brownlee sometime sooner than later?

  2. It really was a great day. I was excited with such a huge turnout on the Beach Haven side especially. Pretty proud that our community support & lobbying by us on the board (lots from Lindsay) to AT which got this project happening finally. Great to meet you too Matt. Cheers for your support and advocacy for public transport and this project.

  3. Glad to hear the Land Company chair talking about the costs of car ownership and dependency because transport costs are inextricably linked to housing cost stress; if a household can save 8k pa on transport clearly that’s 8k can go towards get housed appropriately.

    Key’s son can walk from Parnell, cycle, or it’s a couple stops on a bus; though I wouldn’t hold out for that being a major education for anyone in the household. I guess you never know, if he does he might meet someone interesting, after all that is one of the possibilities that come from getting out of the isolation of your car….

        1. The Keys live down the far end of the street, though. The best I could find was http://www.maxx.co.nz/journey-planner.aspx?fromCoords=&fromLoc=&fromStreet=105+St+Stephens+Avenue%2C+Parnell&toCoords=&toLoc=&toStreet=Alfred+St&hh=08&mm=50&ampm=AM&isAfter=B&date=05-02-2013 which takes about the same time as walking, since the bus isn’t really going the same way, and reduces the walk by less than half. Plus, try getting there in the middle of the day, or home later in the evening – students don’t all work 9-5.

          It’s not a particularly arduous walk, though, especially if you can get a lift from the DPS when it’s raining. And I think walking in Auckland is a better education than catching PT.

  4. Great to have this infrastructure in place.

    I wonder if Cameron Brewer supports pt spending on this project? Normally he’s anti everything.

    1. Chortle. Yes Cameron certainly has been very negative lately. Maybe he did not take too kindly to being called a snob? Either way, I wish he would find his happy pills and stop using every event as an opportunity to take sly jabs at Len Brown. It’s all just so transparent …

  5. Is anyone able to provide numbers that used the ferry this morning, especially from Beachhaven.

    I note that the Ferry shelter is huge and will be used for only 2 services a day 5 days a week. However, there are many bus stops in beachhaven that dont have shelters that get used 4 times+ an hour 7 days a week. That $1.2m in Beachhaven could have been better spent where it will get used – sorry to be a broken record on this one.

  6. I’ve just moved to Beach Haven, just up the road from the ferry, and caught the ferry this morning to the city. I am unabashedly in favour of this new service; we have only ever caught the ferry into the city, and have been using the Birkenhead ferry until now.

    The 6.50am ferry today had about 20 people waiting for it. I spoke to a woman from AT who manages the contracts with ferries who was enthusiastic about the new service and the potential for building up the sailings – one conversation, for example, is weekend services, clearly a key move both for access to the city and to Hobsonville.

    Harvey I think you’re right in one sense – there should be better bus infrastructure in the area and locals should take this up with AT. But it’s not either/or, surely? The ferry does two things: one, it connects the area to downtown over a new mode which doesn’t increase traffic down Onewa, and (much less importantly, admittedly), it also connects Beach Haven and Hobsonville. I note the plan for H’ville includes restaurants and similar down at water level, plus there is the farmers’ market. It seems absurd to have to drive 25 mins to get to something 400m across the water…

    1. Wow – that is good numbers – is that 20 from Beachhaven. If you keep catching it, keep us upto date on numbers.

      How many got on at Hobsonville and how many do you think the boat would hold?

      Re Beachhaven to Hobsonville – I agree a weekend trip to the farmers market and a nice leisurely coffee down by the water would be nice.

  7. Also! Re: fares. Apparently the fares are based on the fares from West Harbour – this seems odd to me when you’re trying to build significant patronage. Any thoughts?

  8. I hope the Westies using these new services will be grateful that their ferry terminals will be paid for by Waiheke ferry users. Wharf tax (50c a trip) is paid by passengers, and since the sheer bulk of passengers are on the big boats, you know where the funds come from.

    1. So you are saying every ferry passenger pays the same flat wharf tax? The ones making short little hops from pontoons on the inner harbour pay the same as those who get to use the large terminal at Mataitai everyday?

    2. That’s patently not true. The Hobsonville Land Company paid for half of Hobsonville’s as part of its development; Auckland Transport paid for the other half and the Beach Haven wharf out of its long-term capex funding, the large majority of which comes from rates – in fact funding AT is the Auckland Council’s single biggest cost. A wharf tax may well contribute to the coffers but it’s not as simple as taking from one lot of commuters for the purpose of building facilities elsewhere.

  9. Not many people realise that us ferry commuters are stung by the 50c a trip tax for ferry wharf infastructure. this is blatently unfair.

    Do bus passengers pay a levy of 50 cents a trip for bus shelters or do train users pay 50 cents a trip for stations. No they do not and us ferry passengers pay out of our rates for those as well. we are well and truly penalised.

    Ferry fares are far too high compared with buses. The ferry fare from Beachhaven should be the same as that for the bus and conversly the same for Northcote Point and Birkenhead and any other inner harbour services.

    1. Bus companies pay Road User Charges which is factored into the ticket price (ie. by the corresponding amount of subsidy from AT)

      1. Everyone pays rates…. If the bus amenity is suboptimal it isn’t the fault of a bit of good ferry amenity. Buses and ferries and trains are complementary. The vast majority of our money goes on driving subsidy.

        1. I assume you are referring more to an earlier comment of mine where I questioned buying a new wharf vs new bus stops. Yes everyone pays rates (home owners anyway) and it is the Councils job to priorities that in the best way that benefits the most people. Like much of the discussion on this forum regarding new motor ways vs CRL, the provision of a new wharf when there is an exist public transport option is a valid question to raise.

      1. Hans,
        Apart from the fact train users already do pay indirectly via the tickets they purchase and since AT OWN the station and (in effect) the trains using it, AT would be paying themselves a tax.

        So why should they?

        You argue that a wharf tax is unfair to Ferry users, perhaps thats true, but the ferries you talk of are private operators are they not?
        And attract no subsidy from AT – something you previously have talked about on this very blog.

        As the Wharves are either publicly owned and maintained (by AX or a CCO), or are privately owned and maintained (but using a public good – that being the foreshore and seabed the wharf stands on)

        Why should the AC rate payer be expected to in effect subsidise a private ferry operator who is using the wharf or public space under it to make money from?

        This is in essence no different than AC charging someone a “tax” for the license to sell ice-creams at the local park to all park visitors.
        Selling the right to use a public good for some purpose – the AC do that for phone boxes (not that there are many of these around now), and other “private” users of public space – for the same reason. Private use of public space.

        Its not the same as the Bus situation as while buses are privately owned and operated but they all use the public road, which is paid for by a combination NZTA and AT and the bus operator pays road user charges, fuel tax, registration etc which covers the roading part of the equation.

        For the bus shelters, yes they are provided equally for all bus operators to use – whether subsided by AT or not.
        So your beef should be with why AT does not charge all bus operators a “bus shelter tax” – not pinging AT for charging wharf fees.

        In some cases, the bus shelters (in the old ACC anyway) are a PPP whereby ACC got many bus shelters supplied and maintained for zero cost in return for granting a 20 or 30 year right to allow advertisements on said bus shelters. Turning a “public space” into a private advertising hoarding.

        So while many of the bus shelters are “free” to AC/AT, its you and I who pay by the visual clutter of bus shelter advertising everywhere as we travel around the city.

        But thats not the same as the “wharf tax” you talk of.

  10. I live in Beach Haven, and work in Hobsonville so I was very excited to hear that a ferry service was being started between the two areas, as I have often looked across and thought about how close it is. But this week I was dismayed to see that they are charging $4 for the trip. It is so close that the ferry would not even have time to hit top speed (if it were allowed to) before having to slow down again! Any way you look at that price, it is cheaper per minute, our by distance, to fly! And so at $8 return, I will be driving my car to work, knowing that by taking the huge loop I have to take, and with the expensive fuel prices these days, It will still be cheaper than taking the public transport. Where is the incentive, where is the common sense! Its only 400 metres across, it doesn’t add up when related to the price to the CBD which is several Kms.
    Lower the price and I would be on it every day with bells on!

    1. Thorbo that’s the cash fare. If you buy an AT Hop card (athop.co.nz) you get a discount – it’s $2.80 or $5.60 which is surely cheaper than 50 minutes of driving, not to mention more pleasant. The fares and timetable info is here – http://www.360discovery.co.nz/commuters/Hobsonville-Beach-Haven-Ferry-Service.php

      More broadly, the more we use the service and give AT and 360 our feedback, the more likely we are to end up with a cost-effective and regular service, so give it a go!

    2. Sorry again, one more thing that occured to me just now – according to Google, it’s 15km from Beach Haven to Hobsonville, or a return trip of 30km a day. At the IRD’s recommended mileage rate of 67c per km (taking into account wear and tear, insurance and petrol), that’s $20 per day. Even at the cash fare you’re better off on the boat.

      1. To be honest that comparison is only valid if you get rid of the car. If you use PT but keep the car then you are still paying capex and insurance so the cost saving is reduced to (mostly) petrol. For 30 km that comes out as ~$5-7 at current petrol prices, depending on car efficiency. In this case the ferry is still a better option but only by a small margin.

        1. Since we are being honest 😉 some costs are fixed and some are variable – items like Reg/warrant/insurance are fixed. Tires/petrol are variable. Depreciation/maintenance is probably somewhere in between – in part related to age and in part related to distance – a 5 year old car with only 30k on the clock is worth more than one with 150k on the clock and would need but not worth as much as a 2 year old car with 30k on the clock.

          Therefore this pushes it back in favour of the ferry as there are more varible costs than you allude to. In favour of the car is the timetable (do you ever finish early or wake up a bit late?)

        2. Probably best to wait a few weeks. I am aware that at Hobsonville at least, the developers were handing out some free tickets so the early patronage could be a result of that.

  11. My other half just got the last sailing back from the CBD, apparently there was about 50 onboard and the journey back was so good she speculated on whether they would let her go round again if she took an earlier one.
    Beats being thrown around on an no aircon Birkenhead Transport bus any day!

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