Saturday, February 23, 2013

Waihekeans should be so lucky!

Via Auckland Transport blog:
Three weeks on from the launch of the new Hobsonville and Beach Haven ferry services, patronage is showing good growth above initial forecasts with 26% above forecast for week one (317 passenger journeys); 68% for week two (422 journeys) and 56% for week three (232 journeys for three days).
Capitalising on this beginning, Auckland Transport is offering a special price deal for all trips on the Hobsonville and Beach Haven ferry services to encourage more people to try the service. Special prices are available from 25 February until 24 May 2013.
Auckland Transport’s Manager of Public Transport, Mark Lambert says “It’s been a good start for the new services. We’re looking to stimulate further growth with the special fares helping promote the services and attract more people who may not have been public transport users previously.
“Ferry travel is a very pleasant and time-saving travel option for those working or studying in the city as well as those looking to travel for leisure”, says Mr Lambert
The Hobsonville and Beach Haven ferry services run two morning and three afternoon sailings each week day.
A bus service departing from Westgate connects with ferry sailings at Hobsonville.

Meanwhile, back on Waiheke, we can look forward to another week of dread in the run up to 1 March. Will Fullers up its monthly fares by $30 in anticipation of paying off the lost revenue due to the 6-month-long out-of-servcie Quickcat? If they do, there is no poin in contacting Mr Lambert to get a similar deal as the North-Westies. Auckland Transport is ball-less when it comes to Fullers.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend madness

I really should have known better but it was unavoidable today but to take the 11:00am sailing to Waiheke with the huge hordes of tourists. Luckily it was Superflyte, it even left on time and didn't make that useless and annoying detour via Devonport. So far so good.
The trouble started on Matiatia wharf where the throng of tourists really don't have a clue where to go or what to do. The signs are abominable and mostly lacking anyway and the East German style public address system announcing what gate to proceed to for the preferred experience is unhelpful.
Why are there no proper destination signs at the bus stop line up? It wouldn't cost much to clearly indicate where line 1, 2 and 4 go to and where the touring buses are. Do we really need to teach Auckland Transport how to suck eggs?
Loading up the regular buses took forever (about 30 minutes before they actually started moving) due to passenger confusion and endless questions to the driver. Why can't Fullers sell return tickets to various points of the island and include it in the ferry fare? This would make boarding buses faster due no more fumbling with wrong change.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Fullers' Supergold card subsidy is $1.5m a year

From the NZ Herald:
"A regional breakdown of the costs released under the Official Information Act shows $10.7 million was spent on seniors travelling on Auckland ferries, buses and rail. That included the maximum amount of just over $1.5 million to Fullers for seniors travelling on the Waiheke Ferry - funding which was capped in 2010 after blowing out to $2 million a year."
 $1.5m is about 7% of the national Supergold card budget.
"The Waiheke ferry cap, adjusted for inflation each year, meant Fullers has received no subsidies for some of its Gold Card passengers. Fullers Group chief executive Douglas Hudson said the cap usually ran out between four to eight weeks before the next subsidy round each year, and the company absorbed the full cost of the free fares for that time. "It does cost Fullers to carry those SuperGold cardholders once the cap has been reached," he said."
That is a nice attempt at spinning themselves into the victim position. One could view instead the $1.5m as an annual bulkfunding exercise to transport 65-plussers (and hangers-on) to Waiheke.
"However, we are comfortable with the degree of 'free' service we provide because we believe that overall, the advent of free ferry fares for SuperGold cardholders has been beneficial for the Waiheke economy."
The economic benefit has certainly accrued to Fullers but the wider impact on the island is disputable: many are day trippers who bring their sandwiches and tea flasks, sit on Onetangi beach for the day and make sure they're back home for tea. I haven't heard any Waiheke business being overrun by oldies, like Fullers (and its buses and tours) are.

In general terms, the Supergold card has been a boon to those fortunate enough to get their hands on one (and to the NZ First Party, which introduced it), but just imagine what that $10.7m transport subsidy could contribute to lowering the fares for everybody and thus make public transport a more attractive alternative and impact in a significant way on the city traffic problems.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Summer madness continues

That awfully nice lady at the Fullers sales counter way back in late October told me the monthly passes for November and December would be discounted by $30 as an "early Christmas present". The pleasantness continued in January when the fare was kept at $325.
But February loomed - and still no sign of Quickcat returning to service - and I was dreading that nice nice lady would take away my Christmas present. When my fellow passengers bought their February passes, the price had indeed gone up to $355. I held off to late on January 31st to buy mine and I was incredulous that I was charged only $325. I asked the young man at the Auckland counter twice to confirm it and yes, he assured me, that was the correct fare.
Cue to chaos, no doubt, when the Fullers CEO made a U-turn on the fare rise, and now everybody who bought an overpriced pass can claim a refund. Make sure you do!

Meanwhile on the water, Saturday morning's 11am sailing from town had about 5 boats on the run to cope with demand. Many people arrived on Waiheke after midday. A glorious Summer season, marred by you-know-who.