You may recall back in October that Auckland Transport was consulting on increasing ferry service to Pine Harbour to take advantage of a new vessel operator Sealink was building.

Clipper IV

In perhaps the least surprising outcome to a consultation, last week Auckland Transport announced that when they asked locals if they wanted more services that they said yes.

Early results from a public transport survey carried out in the Beachlands Maraetai community has signalled strong support for a proposed new ferry timetable.

“Even though we’ve only just begun analysing the 541 submissions received,” says Gareth Willis, AT’s Ferry Services Manager, “initial results show that residents support the proposed new timetable, and that it would encourage 86% of those who responded to use the ferry more often. This is a very encouraging response.”

The timetable changes, which were open for public consultation from 19 October to 2 November this year, proposed an increase in the number of sailings between Pine Harbour and the Downtown ferry terminal in Auckland, as well as introducing some later evening and weekend services.

“We appreciate the feedback and comments people gave us, and as a result of the survey we are likely to make some changes to the proposed timetable that was included in the consultation,” says Mr Willis. “We hope to implement the new timetable in early 2016.”

A public information campaign will be carried out before the changes are made, and the new timetable will be available ahead of time, so that passengers will be prepared.

Once full analysis is completed a survey summary will be available on Auckland Transport’s website, and available for viewing in local libraries.

Feedback relating to the bus service requirements for the Beachlands Maraetai community is still being analysed, and results will be used to decide on the next steps to be taken.

“Whether changes are required to the current 589 bus service, and how they would look, is yet to be decided. However we will have more clarity around this by early to mid-2016, once full analysis has been completed” says Anthony Cross, Public Transport Network Manager.

Mr Willis adds, “We also appreciate the previous survey on public transport that was carried out earlier this year by the Pohutakawa Coast Community Association, and we are reviewing that survey’s results as part of our analysis.”

Once the new timetable is implemented it should help to see ferry use continue to grow. The last year has seen patronage on ferries grow by more than 10% over the last year with the strongest growth on the contracted ferries – which is all routes with the exception of Devonport, Stanley Bay and Waiheke – but they still make up the minority of total ferry trips.

2015-10 - Ferry Patronage

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20 comments

  1. I heard Auckland had a pretty good cost-recovery on ferry fares too, especially in international compare. How has that been tracking?

  2. Frequency is a huge issue for ferries. The one for Beach Haven / Hobsonville / CBD has been 3 in the morning and two at night (or vice versa)……so may as well not even exist for most people. I have wanted to take that ferry since the day it started and not once did it ever fit into my travel needs. I couldn’t go when i wanted to go…and couldn’t get back when I wanted to come back…and the connecting buses have had a poor history of reliability (having lived in that area for several years). Instead, it was always easier, more frequent, simpler and reliable enough to just get the 972, 973 or 974 bus to and from the city. I own two rental properties within 100m of the ferry terminal….and though I promote them as being close to the ferry not one of the tenants has used the ferry since it started…and they are only 100m away.

    Perhaps if the ferry was every 30 minutes through the day things might be different.

    1. That’s the key problem with ferries. They have very high cost (and high capacity) per km, and high sunk costs in fleet before you go anywhere. I don’t know what a ferry costs but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s ten times what a bus costs to buy, and ten times the cost to run.

      That means running them back and forth to northcote thirty or forty times a day is a very expensive proposition, especially if you only get a couple of fares each time.

    2. I take the Hobsonville ferry once a week – it’s a good ride and sure beats any of the bus options from Hobsonville. It’s getting noticeably busier each month too.

      But it’s definitely a commuter service. I can’t take my family on board because they can’t come back until late in the afternoon. Additional frequency would be welcome, but there’s not a strong business case yet.

      1. That’s the funny thing about business cases. Too often they are linear. “more people = more service”. In reality they tend to be not linear: run 20 ferries / day and no one notices for a few weeks or a couple of months…then talk around the cafe turns to how great this frequent ferry is….and suddenly you need a bigger boat.

        I’ve seen that so many times I’m left feeling sad when the spreadsheet guys turn up with their linear, rear-mirror projections. Lost puppies. Mini-Steven Joyces.

  3. Has there ever been a proposal to run a ferry from West Harbour -> Te Atatu -> Kelston -> Pt Chev -> Britomart? Just looking at a map it seems an obvious idea, and much easier than getting in by land. Any reason this wouldn’t work?

    1. There are a few issues. That side of the harbour is shallow tidal mudflats. You end up needing wharves half a kilometre long, which results in minuscule walk catchment and awkward bus and park and ride. Next your ferries take a long time to dock, maybe a full four or five minutes each time, plus going out of the way to serve a string of costal areas means the route would be twice as long as direct from west harbour. That would make it very slow and unattractive. All up it would be expensive to run, not very useful for passengers, slow, and hard to get to!

      If you want a route like that you’d need a new paradigm of small, cheap low-draft ferry buses. Even then it’s hard to see it being time competitive or a good spend of PT subsidy.

      1. Sounds ideal for a hovercraft. It would fly over those shallow mudflat no worries. No need for a wharf it could hover right into the town centre to pick people up and then carry on the route. In the UK hovercraft is much faster than the ferry for getting between the mainland and the Isle of Wight.

        They are building a couple more of them at the moment, perhaps we could get some cheap while the factory is all tooled up.

        http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-30209360

        1. They do 7.1km in 10 mins. So 12km from west harbour to Britomart via TeAtatu, should be about 20 mins which includes a couple of mins stop to pick up passengers. Plus i would expect their new craft will be a bit quicker than the 30 year old models.

          1. You can keep your polluting hovercraft. Let’s go for a protected kayak and stand up paddleboard way, with floating pontoons. Active transport all the way! I’m expecting a call from GenZero any time now.

        2. What makes Ryde ideal for hovercraft is the very shallow shore, requiring a long pier (complete with its own railway station) for conventional ferries to berth but hovercraft can get right up to the beach. Hovercraft couldn’t berth any closer to Auckland city centre than ferries do now, so hovercraft would be expensively and noisily pointless for most passengers.

          1. And I guess that you missed the point that havng to provide hovercraft facilities on Quay St would be very expensive solely for the benefit of a potentially a small number of passengers.

            There’s are good reasons why the Isle of Wight hovercraft service is a rare bird – if not unique in the world!

  4. I used the ferries to Devonport twice when I visited Auckland the other week. One at 8:00pm at night and the other at 10:30 the next morning. Both times the amount of people that came on and off the ferries took me by surprise.
    Though I will have to personally admit I found the layout of the ferry terminal a little confusing.

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