AT denies intentionally running down ferry services

Auckland Transport (AT) has denied speculation that it is deliberately running down ferry services in order to discontinue them.

At a Transport and Infrastructure Committee meeting on August 17, AT executives fielded questions on the further troubled waters ahead for Auckland ferry services. 

Fullers has decided not to renew its contract for the Bayswater, Birkenhead and Northcote ferry service which expires on October 1. Gulf Harbour and Half Moon Bay off-peak services are also being reduced or removed while new skippers are trained. 

AT executive general manager Stacey van der Putten said AT does intend to continue the services to Bayswater, Birkenhead and Northcote, as soon as a new operator can be contracted.

She said AT was looking at supplementary services like buses where ferry services were reduced or removed. Cr Richard Hills asked for a “categorical promise” that AT’s intention was to keep ferry services. “There is an assumption that we are making it bad so the numbers look bad and then we pull them,” he said.

Van der Putten denied that was the case. “There is no intention to withhold services to Gulf Harbour or any of these ferry services. Our intention is to get the proper service allocation back to where it needs to be,” she said.

Chair John Watson said Gulf Harbour ferry users had every reason to believe AT was running down the service. “There was a proposal in four years’ time to actually withdraw that service – it is hard to deny that the services are being run down, that the cancellation rate is chronic,” Watson said.

“For this month, [Gulf Harbour ferry services] are running at over 50 per cent cancellation rate,” he said. “I don’t think anyone in this room, or any person in Auckland Transport, would be catching any form of public transport if it only turned up one out of two times that it was scheduled.”