The Winter has not started yet but the Discontent has. Regular like Groundhog Day, Fullers manages to fuck up its service as soon as the tourists have disappeared and the pesky commuters demand getting to work and home on time in a daily and orderly fashion.
But that was never part of Fullers' business plan, who are you kidding?. Winter is for refashioning, engineering (including fitting in engines that actually work), surveying boats, readying them for the Summer season, taking them out of service as they see fit and replacing them with the floating yellow bath ducks they bought from Explore.
But these island peasants keep turning up at Matiatia wanting public transport, those ingrates on monthly passes and, worse, those who demand being carried for free courtesy of the taxpayer. Don't they know that tourists on $40 return fares bring in the dosh which makes it all worthwhile, and those on discounts should really be happy to find a place in steerage class, packed in like sheep en route to Saudi Arabia?
The peasants have been revolting for quite a while - for the best part of the past 20 years - but now finally have awakened the political class and the media to their case, after rumours of threatening violent action, an extinction rebellion aimed at saving Waiheke island life.
Local body bodies, local Councillors and local MPs are now running around like headless chickens, gathering information and 'experiences' (include exact dates and times, please!) to bring to another meeting with Fullers management, only to be laughed out of the office, since everybody knows (or should know) that it is never the fault of the company, but always the weather, the diesel prices, the passenger numbers, the staff morale and sickness, the Labour government and the lack of free market. No amount of 'consultations' or 'demonstrations' will be of any use. If they had been in the past we would now not be on square one again.
There are only two solutions (and if you have any others, I'd like to hear them):
1. The government grows a pair and reforms the PTOM Act abolishing the exempt service status of Fullers, bringing it under the integrated umbrella of Auckland public transport, with all tenders, regulations, support and penalties for non-performance included. If Fullers manages to remain exempt it should lose all its public subsidies such as the Hop fare system, preferential wharf access and gold card subsidies. If they want a pure free market, we should give it to them with knobs on.
2. The Council should own (or franchise) its own ferry service and go in competition with Fullers. Gold and Hop cards should only be valid on this service. (As an aside, the $2m gold card subsidy given to Fullers came in very handily in its market battle with Explore who never properly qualified for it). This should provide a level of public transport enjoyed by first world cities and get us out of being beholden to government-guaranteed private monopoly, and leave the ripping-off of tourists to Fullers.