Cry of gouging as fares go up

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The Herald reports

Auckland public transport rides will cost at least 10c more from the end of next week, and fares on Fullers’ unsubsidised Waiheke Island ferry service will be boosted by an average of 4.7 per cent.

Auckland Regional Council chairman and part-time Waiheke resident Mike Lee is accusing Fullers of “price gouging” and says he will write to its British-based owner to complain.

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority announced late yesterday that fares on buses and trains would rise “typically” by 2 per cent to 3 per cent on Sunday, October 3, in response to the GST rise on October 1 from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent.

Passengers face rises of 10c for short to medium trips and of 20c on longer trips, meaning an increase of 5.8 per cent on central Auckland’s Link bus service, although inner-city rides will remain unchanged at 50c – as will one-stage child fares.

The transport authority says typical subsidised ferry fares will rise by 2 per cent to 4 per cent on October 3, although 50c more for a return trip between Devonport and Auckland represents a 5 per cent increase.

Fares on Fullers’ unsubsidised Waiheke Island ferry service will rise by an average of 4.7 per cent on that day after an extra pricing review, and will increase by as much as 11.1 per cent for a 10-trip ticket issued to tertiary students.

Adult monthly passes will rise by 4.7 per cent from $315 to $330.

Fullers officials could not be reached for comment, but its website says its new fares are aimed at passing on other cost increases such as an 18 per cent rise in fuel charges in the past 18 months, higher labour and maintenance bills and the Government’s emissions trading scheme.

It’s also worth noting that Fullers have benefited by about $2m from SuperGold subsidies, without actually having to put on any increased services or staff.

Ferry firm offers a week’s free trips

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Fullers ferry company and connecting bus operators are offering people a week’s free travel over the next month on the following ferry services: Half Moon Bay, Devonport, Stanley Bay, Birkenhead, Bayswater and Northcote Pt.  The offer is valid from Monday 31 August until Sunday 27 September.   Associated feeder bus services are also covered in the offer.

Passengers are asked to register with ARTA and nominate the calendar week in which they wish to travel for free.

The full article in the Herald is available here.

Reprieve For Coromandel Ferry Service

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The Herald reports a last minute reprieve for the Coromandel ferry service.

A ferry service from Auckland to Coromandel is to continue as authorities wanting to keep the business afloat look at throwing it a lifeline.

Ferry operator Discovery 360, which runs a service between Auckland and Coromandel via Waiheke, Ponui, Rotoroa and Pakatoa Islands, five times a week, had planned to stop sailings tomorrow.

Discovery 360 said it had lost money since it started the service three years ago and requests for funding assistance from Environment Waikato had been unsuccessful.

About 24,000 passengers used the service on one-way trips over the past 12 months but a spokeswoman said it would need an extra 50 passengers a week to remain viable. “And that’s not likely to happen on a cold August day,” she said.

But after talks yesterday with the Thames Coromandel District Council, NZ Transport Agency and Environment Waikato, the ferry service said it would continue on a month-by-month basis.

Can’t say I’ve seen this service widely advertised in Auckland, but the timetable is here. From memory I think there used to be a car ferry as well.  I would have thought that this would be a great alternative to the Kopu Bridge.

Public Transport Is About Choice

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John Roughan’s anti-public transport articles are becoming tiresome of late.  Most recently, he opines that the “active retired do not need free public transport.”

What he fails to acknowledge is that public transport provides choice.  Thanks to free ferries and public transport after 9am, SuperGold card holders now have the choice of spending less money on petrol, car running costs and parking and more on the cafes of Devonport, the wineries of Waiheke or, for that matter, food, heating or gifts for the grandchildren.

Mr Roughan is right to be concerned about the cost of providing off-peak travel to seniors.  His article would therefore have been more useful if he had investigated why tax and ratepayers are paying millions more to transport operators for providing off-peak travel to SuperGold card holders, when the marginal cost must be close to zero.

Perhaps there are improvements we can make to the public transport contracting model. Perhaps the Public Transport Management Act isn’t working as intended.  Perhaps we get greater economic returns from free off-peak travel than we realised.  Unfortunately from Mr Roughans’ article, we’ll never know.


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