Thursday, August 27, 2009

Drunk but not in charge

A high seas report from commuter Janet:
Ructions on the 4:00pm from the city this afternoon. I was on this boat myself today.
A well known loud abusive drunk was allowed on board. Ray K was furious about it and remonstrated with the captain for letting him on. He had a real go at him about it. He's well known to Fullers apparently with meek and mild behaviour before he gets on and then he rips loose once he's firmly set foot onboard so Ray reckons they should never have let him on in the first place.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

$40 Go Rider weekly passes

I noticed on the bus a flyer announcing weekly Go Rider passes from 30 August available for $40 a week. I haven't seen it announced on the Maxx website.
If true, this is an excellent deal and a template for a future integrated ticketing fare structure:
$40 a week for all your public transport needs with in the Auckland super city, cheap and easy to understand, buy, validate and use.
No need for zoning, no discrimination between transport modes (valid on buses, trains and ferries, including Waiheke) and times of use.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Catamaran International

The big news this week, actually the one of the biggest news items on the Waiheke ferry front for a decade, is the impending launch of a competing fast ferry service to the CBD by Catamaran International.
The company plans to use their 20m catamaran on a full range of ferry services throughout the day and cut Fullers' current fares by 11-20 percent.
Initially, they expect to be able to attract about 10 percent of Fullers’ yearly 1.3m Waiheke passengers.
Mr Kemp says operators that have competed with Fullers have been unable to sustain a service long enough to become viable. However, previous competitors have used similar sized boats to Fullers, he says.
There have been many rumours over the years of a competing service but this one looks quite serious, even if it's not expected to start soon and then quite modestly with a single vessel.
As islanders, we of course look forward to a competitive service, certainly on speed, price and service, three things they are promising to deliver. So we welcome them warmly and wish them the best of luck with the venture.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ferry arrival times

I've been away last week so no updates available since then, sorry. A whole week I couldn't use my monthly pass due to a family emergency. It just shows that weekly passes (even daily ones) should be available from a date you choose insted of being locked in an expensive monthly flat rate contract.

Anyway, back at work now. Tue 18 Aug was a shocker of a morning: 8:00am Jet Raider arrived at 8:52:16. Wed 19 Aug was only marginally better: 8:46:15.
Sun 23 Aug saw a 8:33:32 arrival time. Well done, Starflyte captain.

$10 weekend tickets to Waiheke

Under the guise of helping the Waiheke tourism industry, Fullers is now offering online $10 Winter Weekend" return tickets. Never you mind that you have to return the same day, so a weekend on the island is not actually on offer. Plus it does nothing for the accommodation industry. It's just a ploy to get those hordes onto pricey island and vineyard tours (courtesy of Fullers, of course).

But the galling thing is that these tickets are only on offer to New Zealanders, not Waiheke Islanders who might want to spend some quality time in town. Nope, we still have to fork out $32 return. I guess if somebody has to pay for that "generous deal" Fullers surmises that it might as well be Waihekeans.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Free ferry commuting

I never thought I would see those three words together published in a newspaper in my lifetime, but there they were: a shiny advert in the NZ Herald offering Auckland commuters the experience of travelling to and from work by ferry, and for free for a week in September.
If you want to take advantage of this Maxx offer, register here.

But don't bother if you want to commute from Waiheke. Our route is the only one excluded from the offer. You see, we don't need convincing we should use ferries to work, we already do. Some of us have been doing this for 27 years, as was recently impressed on me by the FUG lady.

So, Devonportuguese, Half Moonies, Bayswaterholes, Stanley Bayers, Birkenheadcases and Northcoteries, congratulations with your good fortune. But do think about those who will pick up the tab for your luck: a free week's travel (and massively subsidised runs afterwards) thanks to the Waiheke commuter who is paying over the odds for the whole system to prevent it from collapsing.

Fullers, of course, will pay nothing. It's Maxx (the Auckland region ratepayer) who will.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ferry fares news from around the world

From the BBC:
The success of a government pilot project aimed at lowering ferry fares in the Outer Hebrides has sparked a fresh call for reductions elsewhere.
Fullers owner, Mr Souter, is a Scotsman, so why not follow their shiny example?
In Scotland they use an interesting concept to calculate fares: the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET):
A pilot scheme offering lower fares on all ferry routes to the Western Isles has increased traffic significantly, the first minister has said.
Road equivalent tariff (RET) was launched by the Scottish Government in October last year.
It bases the cost of travelling on the equivalent distance by road.
Alex Salmond said since the scheme started there had been a rise in the number of visitors, family, friends and businesses visiting the isles
Meanwhile in British Columbia, things go the other way:
The B.C. Ferries annual report is grim reading for individuals and business owners in coastal communities.
In the last year, the number of vehicles carried has fallen by more than five per cent. The number of passengers has fallen by almost as much. The losses have been greatest on the major routes, carrying visitors to Vancouver Island.
The annual report cites a number of factors, including the recession, high gas prices, falling tourism and December storms. All of those certainly played a significant role.
And in neighbouring Washington State, it doesn't get better either. Super surcharge anyone?:
The state Transportation Commission is recommending that ferry travelers pay a second surcharge during the heat of summer.
For years, Washington State Ferries has raised vehicle rates 25 percent during the peak season, from May through mid-October. The transportation commission, after hearing Washington State Ferries’ proposal on July 14 to raise fares 2.5 percent across the board, decided to add a 10 percent super summer surcharge in July and August. Like the peak-season surcharge, it wouldn’t affect customers using frequent-user passes, just tourists and other occasional users. For them, the cost of a cross-Sound ticket for a car and driver would jump from $14.45 to $16 each way. The super surcharge would not apply to walk-on passengers
The Office of Fair Trading in the UK is launching a public survey into ferry fares to the Isle of Man by the Steam Packet Company:
The inquiry is looking at the price of passenger and vehicle fares including fuel surcharges and freight charges.
The responses have been excellent.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ferry arrival times and gossip

Jet Raider ex-Waiheke Monday 8:40:50; Tuesday 8:39:40; Wednesday 8:38:30; Sunday 1 Aug 8:40:30 (Quickcat II); Monday 3 Aug 8:39:10; Tuesday 4 Aug 8:39:30

Superflyte was supposed to be on survey for "2 weeks". It's now almost 5 weeks later and still no sign of her. I asked one of Fullers staff about it and he said: "Still some time away!"
UPDATE: A notice on Jet Raider said Super Flyte will be back in service on August 24, its survey found malfunctions in its engine and parts had to be sourced in Australia. The planned survey of Quickcat has been postponed due to this.
I would advise Fullers staff to pray Jet Raider doesn't cark it in the meantime. The old lady doing a 2 month run is asking a lot!

And good to hear about plans to start a cheaper rival ferry service to Waiheke. Good luck to them, they'll have our full support, but we'll have to wait to see before it happens.