Commuters can expect better ferry services between Gulf Harbour and Auckland sooner rather than later, with the announcement last week that the final hurdle, obtaining funding, is almost over.
The improved service is expected to begin towards the end of this month, with Auckland Transport (AT) and Fairway Bay developer Top Harbour ready to sign an agreement at the end of last week. The cloak of commercial sensitivity has been drawn over the details of the developer’s investment in the ferry service.
Currently ferry operator 360 Discovery/Fullers provides four sailings per day (weekdays) in and out of Gulf Harbour, and no weekend service, but numerous surveys of passengers and residents show that there is demand for more frequent sailings.
Funding had been a stumbling block to increasing the number of sailings, with AT consistently saying it could not increase the amount by which it already subsidises the service, however the Government’s introduction of a public/ private framework for procuring bus and ferry services in 2012 smoothed the way for more private investment.
The idea of the framework was toreduce public subsidy levels by allowing greater investment – public or private –in public transport services.
Top Harbour has been involved in the process since last year as improved ferry services are in its commercial interests, as well as having the potential to reduce traffic congestion on Whangaparaoa Rd.
Top Harbour’s development consultant Michael Webb-Speight is bound by confidentiality agreements, but says his company has invested in the ferry service in order to promote its residential development as “a commuter suburb”.
360 Discovery Ferry services manager James Bailey says his company has put forward its business proposals and is being kept in the loop. The proposal is for an all-day timetable of around 12 sailings per weekday – increasing themorning and afternoon sailings from two to three and providing additional sailings during the day; the proposed start date is June 29. There is no provision for weekend ferry sailings.
The public will have the opportunity to submit feedback on the proposed timetable before final changes are implemented.
All services are monitored for patronage and further issues still to be ironed out are the amount of parking available on the Hammerhead and the need for bus services to connect with the ferry.