Viewpoint – Ferry frustrations

It’s been a terribly disappointing and extremely frustrating few months for Coast residents regarding the Gulf Harbour ferry service.

There have been three public meetings over the past year, each with crowds of 300 to 350 people.

In the recent RPTP consultation there were over 3000 submissions across Auckland, with at least 1200 about the Gulf Harbour ferry alone.

The average cancellation rates are as follows: 2018 – 5.25 percent; 2019 – 5.79 percent; 2020 – 7.42 percent; 2021 – 8.91 percent; 2022 – 38.35 percent; 2023 – 47.91 percent.

In my view, the cancellations show a concerted effort to decimate the service to the stage where patronage has dropped from 16,000 per month (in 2021) to about one quarter of that. Auckland Transport (AT) suggest that the bad weather is one of the main reasons for the irregular service.

They have also provided inaccurate information, that falsely favours the bus service and downplays the efficiencies of the ferry service. Google Maps shows that on Wednesday at 7am via car from Gulf Harbour to Auckland, the travel time is 1 hour – 1 hour 50 mins, or 1 hour – 1 hour 48 mins by bus. However, by ferry – just 50 minutes. Yet at a recent workshop, AT said there is a lot of public “misinformation and disinformation” – relating to the ferry service, when the only disinformation I’ve heard, has come from the skewed AT data and their excuses for the regularly cancelled ferry service!

Most mornings the traffic is backed up to Manly shops – with no bus lane, and further developments planned east of Manly. Then, the “cherry on top” delivered by AT at the workshop on September 19  was the news that there isn’t the funding for the Penlink bus terminal we have been advocating for.

Over the last six years AT assured locals the ferry service would be improved with additional sailings and improved vessels – and subsequently many millions of dollars has then been invested into the Hammerhead, etc.

Without a doubt, removing the ferry service will put more private vehicles back on the road exacerbating the congestion that already affects both buses and cars.

However, given the recent overwhelming feedback in support of keeping the ferry service, and AT’s murmurings of further investigation, everything is feeling slightly more optimistic than it has felt in some time. I shudder to think where would we be if an astute local hadn’t read through a wordy document and seen buried in one of the many, many pages, the plan to stop the Gulf Harbour ferry service.

Lastly, a big shout out to the admin team of the Gulf Harbour Ferry group and Crs John Watson and Wayne Walker – love your work!

Let’s keep everything crossed, that democracy and common sense prevails!