Campaign 4 Fair Ferry Fares (C4FFF) has released new figures for the government funded SuperGold scheme, showing Fullers Ferries reaping significant financial gains since the scheme was implemented late last year. A total of $756,429 (excluding GST) was claimed by Fullers from the SuperGold reimbursement scheme for Waiheke ferry services between 1 October 2008 and 28 February 2009. This means that 23% of the subsidy that ARTA is claiming from the government is being received by Fullers for Waiheke ferry services. The group estimates that Fullers are carrying approximately 3000 SuperGold passengers each week.
Campaign spokesperson Dr Cathy Urquhart said that the new owner of Fullers, Souter Holdings – which announced its purchase of Fullers from Infratil on 6 April – will be under continued, strong pressure in 2009 to pass on the benefits of SuperGold profits and low diesel prices to Waiheke commuters.
"Fullers is pocketing a huge benefit from the Supergold card scheme and the falling diesel prices, but they haven’t yet passed on those savings in a fair and transparent way," says C4FFF spokesperson Dr Cathy Urquhart. "Fullers earnings before tax are estimated to be $5 million as at 31 March 2009. So we estimate that the Supergold subsidy represents a 20% windfall by the end of winter. Far from Infratil divesting itself from an underperforming business by selling Fullers to Souter Holdings, it would seem that Fullers is still doing very nicely thank you!"
"We will be watching Fullers performance very carefully in the coming months. Issues such as transparent and affordable fares, passenger levies, fuel surcharges, safeguarded bus concessions and integrated ticketing must be debated with the community, or we have simply exchanged one monopoly for another."
Dr Urquhart is urging Waiheke residents to attend the public meeting organised by C4FF on Saturday 16 May at 2pm, Ostend Memorial Hall, to discuss transport issues for the island. The group is also offering its assistance for public submissions under the PTMP.
"We want to urge Waiheke Islanders to take an active role in determining the future of sustainable and affordable transport for their community, and we have invited local operators, councillors and MPs to be a part of that dialogue – so come along and have your say!"
People who would like to know more about the public meeting and receive a template submission form for the Public Transport Management Plan, can contact C4FFF for further information.