Daily commuter Karthiga Kanesha believes the Gulf Harbour ferry service is in desperate need of an upgrade – and she’s not alone.
The Gulf Harbour resident has experienced first hand the stresses caused by last minute cancellations, crowded vessels and poor communication, and has decided to take action.
Hoping to create a more attractive and viable transport option for Hibiscus Coast commuters, Kanesha has created a petition and qualitative survey to submit to Auckland Transport.
While the petition and survey are ongoing, she hopes they will work together to show how the service affects the lives of those using it.
The survey – hosted on change.org – has close to 1000 signatures of residents who want to see the service improved.
The main issues identified include frequent ferry cancellations, unreliable communication regarding voyages, and the need for more or larger ferries.
“A lot of us don’t complain about it but I think we’re over it – it should be better,” Kanesha said.
Kanesha is happy to pay $320 a month to catch the ferry, but says the price can sting when ferries are cancelled and alternative transport needs to be arranged last minute at her expense.
“We’re not complaining about the cost of the ferry, but when we get a number of delays, that makes the cost we pay insufficient,” she said.
Gulf Harbour resident Andrew Johnstone has caught the ferry for nine years as it’s “the quickest way to get to town”.
He enjoys the service, but finds last minute voyage cancellations frustrating, and says despite pay fare increases, nothing has changed.
“The fact that the bus [home] leaves from a different place than the ferry does – it doesn’t give you a lot of time to react,” he said.
Auckland Transport media advisor James Ireland says AT will definitely look at the points raised by the petition.
“We always welcome ideas from the public, and we will give them consideration,” he said.
Figures provided by AT show that no ferries on the Gulf Harbour to Britomart schedule reached capacity in the week from February 26 to March 2.
Passenger loadings on the week’s busiest morning service – the 7am ferry to Britomart – were between 116 and 142 passengers on the 244 seat D6 ferry.
The busiest afternoon service leaving Britomart at 5.15pm saw between 72 and 151 passengers aboard the same vessel.
Ireland says AT is aware of the demand for increased ferry services and bigger vessels, but is unable to implement any increases at Gulf Harbour before July due to budgetary constraints.
“AT is currently involved in undertaking a tendering process for ferry routes and is also undertaking a wider review of ferry services within the Auckland region,” he said.
“All the proposed changes, are subject to funding and tender negotiations, so there is no guarantee at this point that these changes will occur.”
Last week saw the Hobsonville Point ferry service start operating a bigger vessel, increasing from 79 seats to 126.
Ireland says this will have a “flow on effect” and take some pressure off the Gulf Harbour service.
However, if Gulf Harbour commuters wish to take advantage of the Hobsonville Point service, they will face a morning commute of around 40km.
Google Maps indicates a perfect run between Gulf Harbour and Hobsonville Point Wharf will take 40 minutes, and in weekday morning traffic, anywhere up to one hour and 25 minutes.
The commute to Britomart is around 47km.
Ireland says Fullers and 360 Discovery will soon switch from the current text notification system in favour of the Fullers My Ferry app.
Source: Rodney Times
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