Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ferry fare increase

From August 1 Fullers Ferries is increasing fares by double current consumer price inflation. A monthly pass will now cost $260, up from $245. This without any noticeable increase in services: still no all night boats on weekends, still the decrepit Jet Raider, still waste disposal into the Gulf. It's a prime example of monopoly price gouging: there is no competition (Pacific Ferries were soon dispensed with), no alternative land route for islanders, and (crucially for a monopoly to be able to price its goods unfettered) no public subsidy.
In comparison, yesterday, Stagecoach had the audacity to ask the ARTA for a subsidy for the Half Moon Bay run because passenger fares didn't cover costs. Now Fullers in its pamphlet, spinning the price increases, says a "fall in patronage" and an "increase in fuel prices" make it inevitable to rack up fares. I wonder how that will increase patronage - any normal market based business would lower prices to increase demand. But then Fullers has always been exempt from the laws of capitalism. So much easier to soak the rich on Waiheke. (7,000 residents pay $8 million in rates)
There was a spontaneous petition doing the rounds on this morning's boats, but only a reigning in from above will do. But will I hold my breath?