Some sad news late yesterday with Explore ferries announcing that they will be stopping their service to Waiheke, once again leaving Fullers with a monopoly on the route.
A Waiheke Island ferry service has been axed after two years because it was not getting enough passengers.
Explore Group announced on Tuesday it would cease its ferry to Auckland’s Waiheke Island after a thorough review of the service.
The decision was being rued by Waiheke islanders, who had enjoyed the competition against Fullers Ferries, main operators on the route.
Infrastructure problems that prevented a comfortable experience for passengers – especially throughout winter months – was one of a number of contributing factors, Explore Managing director William Goodfellow said.
The decision was not easy to make, he said, because of the support the company received from passengers and the “considerable investment” made.
“We’ve thrown everything we could at the Waiheke service and we greatly appreciate the support of Waiheke and Auckland travellers, however the initial strong support from commuters was not sustained and ultimately the numbers did not stack up,” he said.
“We entered into the service with the specific aim of providing ferry commuters with a superior level of service and on-board travel experience. We achieved this and as a result we believe the ferry services to Waiheke are in better shape, both in terms of the standard on offer and the frequency of service, than it was two years ago.”
I think it needs to be remembered that the services to Waiheke are operated fully commercially and will continue to be well into the future as they were ensrined in leglislation (which I believe AT objected to).
Explore’s service had some things were working against it from day one such as not being eligible for any SuperGold funding until recently, not being able to accept HOP, issues with access to wharves, timetable issues for connections to Waiheke buses etc.
Most indications had pointed to Fullers lifting their game since the introduction of Explore and they’re even having new boats built to provide better service. It will be interesting to see if any improvements slip away once Fullers are plying the waters by themselves again.