The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) has released its Monthly Business Report [PDF] for the July 2009 year.
On Page 4 is a graph of total patronage on various transport modes over the last 7 years. Ferry patronage is static despite seasonal wave movements between 300,000 and 450,000 passengers a month.
Looking at a past 4 year period (page 8), July 2008 was the third lowest in numbers over the period, which puts the 11.8% rise in 2009 into context.
Also it seems that the introduction of the Supergold Card free travel in November 2008 has cushioned the (mostly) downward trend in passengers in 2007 and 2008, with stronger than normal seasonal figures in 2009. The Government has saved Fullers' bacon, but we are still paying higher fares.
As an aside, the ARTA report doesn't research punctuality for ferries, because Fullers is exempt from that criterion.