Auckland Transport considers ferry contract

The Hibiscus & Bays Local Board has already called for Fullers360’s ferry contract to be relinquished and the Auckland Transport (AT) board appears to have that option on their mind as well. 

A report summarising Fullers contract was attached to the AT board’s October 31 meeting agenda including options to terminate the contract.

Staff said that the information about the contract was included because the board was interested in contractual levers regarding Fullers’ performance.

The summary of the Fullers contract terms includes exit provisions such as “any non-trivial failure…to comply with its obligations”.

At the same meeting, AT hinted at possible ferry price rises because of the level of subsidy currently required to cover the cost of operations. 

Board members raised their eyebrows at a report that some ferry runs have subsidies of more than $30 per passenger. 

The report said longer routes, like Gulf Harbour or Pine Harbour, require more funding. 

The report showed that the Gulf Harbour run charges users $11.60 while the cost per passenger is $41.16.

AT’s report acknowledged that the issue would need to be addressed, either through increased funding or increasing fares to passengers. 

The news comes after a tumultuous time for ferry services with the Gulf Harbour and Half Moon Bay ferries significantly reducing their services while crew are trained. 

Executive general manager Stacey van der Putten said Auckland’s ferry services are not financially sustainable. 

“The net cost per passenger has increased tremendously – it’s quite a complicated mode with a complicated history,” van der Putten said.

Acting chair Wayne Donnelly put question marks over Auckland’s ferry services entirely. 

“I think the subsidy has tripled, so one of the hard questions we need to ask is – is this the start of a journey or the end?” Donnelly asked.

Van der Putten responded the costs had changed 10-fold, but that ferry services are necessary. 

“We are part of a city and need a good ferry network,” van der Putter said.