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Submission in relation to the proposed Ferry Service and Infrastructure Variation, and the RPTP Statement of Proposal

Home > News > Submission in relation to the proposed Ferry Service and Infrastructure Variation, and the RPTP Statement of Proposal
Jun. 05 / 2015

Prepared by Michael Webb-Speight, on behalf of Top Harbour Limited – Developer of Fairway Bay,

Gulf Harbour.

1. THL is a unique stakeholder

In May 2014 THL entered into an agreement with Auckland Transport to subsidise the introduction of additional ferry services to Gulf Harbour. THL will contribute a total of $XXX,000 (incl GST) over 2 years. It is our understanding that THL is the only private organisation contributing to a public transport subsidy in Auckland. Accordingly THL considers it is a unique stakeholder in the process of future planning for the Ferry Services to Gulf Harbour.

Up until July 2014 there were 2 return trips per day, and an average patronage of 5250pax/month.

No services were met with bus connections. The new timetable commenced on 31 July 2014 and offered 6 return trips per day. The patronage has climbed to an average of 13,000 passengers per month (March / April / May) and is expected to continue to grow rapidly, subject to limiting factors such as vessel capacity, parking and frequency. There is a single bus feeder service to one sailing, but this sometimes doesn’t stop at the GH ferry terminal.

The agreement between THL and AT provides for a review of services in July 2015. As part of that review THL is seeking an increase in scheduled services.

THL submits that the SoP is amended to immediately increase the scheduled services to Gulf Harbour to 30 minute frequency during peak times and 60 minute frequency off-peak.

2. Base assumptions used for growth modelling are incorrect.

The RPTP Statement of Proposal (SoP) seeks to amend the Ferry Development Plan (FDP) approved by the AT Board in December 2014. The amendments provide for additional sailings, integrated bus connections and the development of the terminals in accordance with the objectives in the RPTP.

In relation to Gulf Harbour the SoP states that ferry services at peak times will be at 30 minute intervals, however it does not propose the necessary increase in scheduled services and investment in infrastructure to achieve this, nor does it set out the timeframes for introduction of these services.

The main reason for this appears to be an incorrect assumption in relation to the growth of ferry patronage from Gulf Harbour. The modelled future demand assumptions used in the FDP are based on the Auckland Plan Medium Growth Scenario.
In Figure 1 below is an extract from the FDP, and were prepared on the basis of the existing 6 return ferry sailings. The table indicates AM peak boarding as being 141pax, growing to 203pax in 2026 and 280pax in 2046.

By contrast, the actual current AM Peak (May 2015) for Gulf Harbour is 240pax, with total patronage having grown more than 100% over the last 9 months.

In other words at Gulf Harbour we are already close to exceeding the projected patronage for 30 years from now.

This incorrect assumption is reflected in other aspects of the FDP – for example development of the terminal at Gulf Harbour has a total of $28,000 planned expenditure (somewhat less than Rakino), and Table 2 below shows no additional commuter sailings planned to be introduced in the next 10 years. This assumption also incorrectly informs other aspects such as the bus connectivity changes proposed in the SoP.

THL submits that the growth assumptions used in modelling public transport for Whangaparaoa are incorrect, and should be modified and updated to include what is actually happening in the area.

3. Comparison with similar locations – Pine Harbour catchment vs services provided

Comparison with a similar destination such as Pine Harbour appears warranted, given the geographic and socio-economic similarities. Both destinations are undergoing considerable residential development, are poorly serviced by land based public transport, and have long commute times to the CBD.

At present Pine Harbour has 15 return ferry trips per day versus Gulf Harbour 6 return trips.

By any measurement, Gulf Harbour appears to have been left out of the FDP programme. We can find no rational explanation for why this has been in the past, and even less for why the Ferry Development Plan does not seek to address it.

THL owns 30ha of residentially zoned development land at Gulf Harbour with approximately 1000 HHU’s planned over the next 5- 8 years. THL is proceeding to develop the land as fast as the consent processes will allow, and has generated more than 130 lots over the last 2 years. In addition to this there are approximately 1000 HHU’s in the immediate vicinity that THL does not own, many of which have been built on and sold since THL purchased the land. It is noted that the growth in patronage is entirely derived from the existing households in the area, rather than from the new homes which THL are creating. Patronage from new home construction is only just now beginning to come on stream.

THL submits that the SoP and the FDP should be amended to provide Gulf Harbour with similar services and future growth as planned for Pine Harbour.

4. Increase in ferry patronage to Gulf Harbour – the best good news story in public transport

At a time when AT is seeking to actively grow patronage across the PT network, a trial introduction of the additional sailings to Gulf Harbour Ferry producing an increase of over 100% in patronage is a fantastic good news story. The fact that it has been achieved in partnership with private business interests suggests that it may be worth considering as a model for other sectors of the PT network.

The investment by THL in the Gulf Harbour Ferry Service has been worthwhile marketing exercise from a branding perspective, and has changed the way in which the local community considers both Gulf Harbour and Chinese investment in New Zealand. THL continues to actively promote the ferry services as a way of differentiating its residential development from other housing developments. It is noted that the growth of the ferry service in terms of frequency and capacity to meet the needs of the local community is critical to maintaining ongoing enthusiasm for the scheme from THL shareholders.

THL submits that the agreement between THL and AT could be used as a model for partnership with private business interests in other sectors of the PT network.

5. Timing of additional services

As outlined above the agreement between AT and THL is due for review in July. THL has attempted to engage with AT since May seeking additional ferry sailing times. To date we have received an assurance that the ferry services will not be reduced as a result of the review, and some additional capacity has been brought on to cover the busiest sailings, but we have received no indication that any additional sailings are being considered.

The additional services outlined in table 2 above suggest that unless the FDP is amended there will be no additional sailings introduced prior to 2025.

THL submits that Table 2 should be amended to show at least 15 sailings Mon-Fri to be introduced in 2015.

6. Limitations to Growth

During the discussions regarding the agreement between AT and THL a number of limitations to growth were identified. These limitations include:

• Frequency of sailings
• Availability of inside seating
• Availability of parking
• Interconnecting bus services
• Ferry terminal facilities

Recent feedback from existing passengers suggests strongly that all of these factors are presently limiting further growth. In a recent survey conducted by Auckland Ward Councillor John Watson, all of the above themes were mentioned, together with concerns about the safety and reliability of the existing boats used on the services.

THL does not think it is appropriate that passengers must stand outside in the rain, queuing for a ferry at peak time to ensure that they can obtain a seat on a crowded slow ferry.

THL submits that the SoP should be amended to include capital expenditure in the near term that adequately provides for additional sailings, larger vessels, carpark and terminal improvements, and bus services to meet all ferry arrivals.

7. CBD carparking policy and road congestion

It is the stated policy of both AT and Auckland Council to reduce parking in CBD. This is to be furthersupported by the imminent introduction of the Residential Exempt Parking Scheme (Freemans Bay and other inner suburbs) and zero minimum parking requirements for new high density buildings being constructed under the PAUP. All of these policies are aimed at reducing congestion and rely on increasing PT patronage.

Surveys conducted by THL in 2014 showed that more than 40% of commuters travelling by car from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula had an intended destination south of Albany. At peak hours commuter times exceed 90 minutes, and as has been well documented recently in the event of an accident there is no alternative travel route by road.

Clearly providing additional ferry services to the commuters of Whangaparaoa Peninsula provides a benefit to congestion issues on the Northern Motorway, and is entirely consistent with the CBD carparking policy objectives. Conversely not providing additional ferry services means there is no alternative available and is contrary to these objectives

THL submits that additional services to Gulf Harbour should be immediately introduced in compliance with the CBD parking and congestion policies of AT and Auckland Council.

8. BCR for service and infrastructure improvements

The FDP sets out the BCR’s for various projects in the plan and notes that for investment in services and infrastructure at Gulf Harbour the BCR is 8.8. It is the second highest scoring BCR for all ferry destinations. The FDP notes that the score is very high due to high benefit per passenger. THL would suggest that the result is negatively affected by the low forecast growth assumption discussed above, and may be comparable with the Half Moon Bay BCR of 15.7, due to a higher growth assumption.

THL submits that the BCR figure for service and infrastructure improvements in Gulf Harbour should be recalculated in line with the growth actually occurring.

9. Passenger travel preferences

To date AT have not liaised with either the passengers or the local community in relation to changing the timetable. Given that more than 50% of the passengers are new to ferry travel, THL is of the view that passengers should be given the opportunity to select their preferred sailing times. Of even more significance the preferences of those in the local community who still choose to travel by car to the CBD should be canvassed. To this end THL will be conducting a survey over the next 2 weeks. Based on past experience we anticipate we will receive between 500 and 1000 responses to the survey,

which we would consider a statistically significant sample.

THL submits that the preferences of existing and potential ferry commuters should be taken into account in the SoP when determining increased sailing frequencies to Gulf Harbour.

SUMMARY OF SUBMISSIONS

1. THL submits that the SoP is amended to immediately increase the scheduled services to Gulf Harbour to 30 minute frequency during peak times and 60 minute frequency off-peak.
2. THL submits that the growth assumptions used in modelling public transport for Whangaparaoa are incorrect and should be modified and updated to include what is actually happening in the area.
3. THL submits that the SoP and the FDP should be amended to provide Gulf Harbour with similar services and future growth as planned for Pine Harbour.
4. THL submits that the agreement between THL and AT could be used as a model for partnership with private business interests in other sectors of the PT network.
5. THL submits that Table 2 should be amended to show at least 15 sailings Mon-Fri to be introduced in 2015.
6. THL submits that the SoP should be amended to include capital expenditure in the near term that adequately provides for additional sailings, larger vessels, carpark and terminal improvements, and bus services to meet all ferry arrivals.
7. THL submits that additional services to Gulf Harbour should be immediately introduced in compliance with the CBD parking and congestion policies of AT and Auckland Council.
8. THL submits that the BCR figure for service and infrastructure improvements in Gulf Harbour should be recalculated in line with the growth actually occurring.
9. THL submits that the preferences of existing and potential ferry commuters should be taken into account in the SoP when determining increased sailing frequencies to Gulf Harbour.