A lack of demand for a weekend ferry service from Gulf Harbour to Auckland is being questioned by the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board and Gulf Harbour developers Fairway Bay.
At a meeting of the local board, member Caitlin Watson and other board members challenged the view there is no demand for weekend ferry services – a statement made by an Auckland Transport (AT) representative.
The debate has led to a furore on social media, with many residents saying they would use a weekend service to the city and calling for a trial.
Albany Ward Councillors John Watson and Wayne Walker have also weighed in on the issue.
“We know from our own feedback that there is real demand for additional services,” Walker and Watson say.
Developers of Fairway Bay in Gulf Harbour played a significant role in the increased weekday ferry services to Gulf Harbour, and their development consultant Michael Webb-Speight says it is difficult to gauge demand until the service is provided.
“Our previous surveys showed considerable interest, but we didn’t really understand the strength of that demand.
“The assumption within AT was that it may take years to achieve the sort of growth in passenger numbers that was achieved within the first few months of introducing the new timetable.”
Increasing the weekday ferry services saw usage grow by 120 per cent.
Webb-Speight says the local board requested Fairway Bay to conduct another survey, this time focused on weekend sailings.
Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt has an upcoming meeting with Auckland Transport, and wants to use the opportunity to present evidence of the potential demand.
“We feel encouraged by the positive response from senior AT management to our request for a meeting to discuss this matter., She says.
Whilst it may seem obvious to us, AT needs to see some evidence of demand before they can build a business case around weekend sailings. It is really important for the local community to get engaged in these processes.”
As a regular ferry user herself, Caitlin Watson says: “The road trip in to town is becoming more and more congested, and by contrast the ferry ride can be a magical experience.
“On top of that there is now so much to do at the CBD waterfront on weekends.”
To participate, fill out the survey on the Fairway Bay website at fairwaybay.co.nz.