What to do with the Central Wharves

The Downtown Framework (18MB) was released last week and one of the interesting set of challenges to deal with is the Central Wharves. These are the finger wharves spread out across the core of the CBD from Princes Wharf in the west to Bledisloe Wharf in the east.

Central Wharves

There are a number of challenges but the key ones seem to be

  • The future demands of providing public transport. Patronage on ferries has increased by ~140% over the last decade and almost 600% since 1992 (less than 900k trips in 1992 and over 5m now), that is likely to grow further.
  • The future demand of the cruise ship industry which like ferry patronage has grown strongly and is expected to keep doing so. This means more ships and people to accommodate as well as the providoring needed for them. In addition ships are expected to get larger.
  • Managing the demand for water space, cruise ships often like to leave port during the evening peak right when ferries are busy.
  • The demand for increased and improved public space including making Queens Wharf a Peoples Wharf
  • Managing port operations and the impact the other changes will have on them.

Getting the right balance will be tricky and to help guide the decision a Central Wharves strategy is being developed while the Ports of Auckland are also developing the second stage of their Ports strategy. Some of the options being considered in the strategy are below and some of them would see significant change on the waterfront. A key to them is below

Wharves options Key

 

Wharves options 1

There seems to be a few common themes amongst all options which is aimed at addressed some of the key challenges listed earlier. In particular all four options involve the extension of at least one wharf, the largest of which would be to Bledisloe Wharf. Most of the options would also see Marsden Wharf removed to create more space for the growing size of passenger and cargo ships.

Of all the options #4 presents perhaps the most radical change and would see the ferry terminal moved to a new purpose built floating pontoon facility in the place of Captain Cook Wharf. I personally have always liked the idea of #3 having Captain Cook Wharf as the primary cruise terminal which is able to service multiple ships at once but which is still extremely close to Queen St. That would then allow Queens Wharf to become dedicated public space.

All up the information suggests an interesting and exciting future for Auckland’s and one we’ll be keeping a close eye on.

The Alternative Mode Commute

Yesterday I decided I would complete what I call the Ultimate Alternative Mode Commute. In essence I managed to combine walking, cycling, a bus, a train and a ferry trip into my commute between Henderson and Takapuna.

Ultimate Alternative Mode Commute 2

 

I started by riding along Northwest cycleway in to town including down the newly opened Grafton Gully cycleway. It definitely made things quick for getting from upper Queen St to Quay St although I did manage to get held up for a long time at every single set of lights between Grafton Rd and Quay St. I’m not sure if that was just me being unlucky or if perhaps AT had the cycling phases permanently on during the weekend in anticipation of lots of people using it. I’ll probably ride my bike home tomorrow however I normally do that via Upper Harbour.

I managed to time my run to the Ferry perfectly and turned up just as it was unloading. I used the route that Peter outlined in this post. Of course while ferries do have some limitations, the views they offer on a nice day aren’t one of them. One big frustration I have though is the absurd situation that monthly passes doesn’t cover the use of ferries.

Ferry View to CBD

For my trip home it was a walk to the Akoranga to catch the Northern Express (NEX) back to town. I could have also just caught the bus from Takapuna which would have been faster but I’m trying to add a bit more walking into my daily routine so have been doing this walk more often recently. Catching the in both directions has also really highlighted to me that while it’s an awesome service, it does need some improvements to it’s counter peak frequency. Buses are only every 10 minutes on the runs back to the city in the afternoon. For most Auckland bus routes that would be fantastic however for the NEX it’s clearly not enough as the bus was at bursting point which is a fairly regular occurrence in the afternoons. It is probably time for AT to make use of some of the buses which provide extra peak capacity to bump up the counter peak frequency.

A short stroll from the corner of Customs St and Queen St provides a connection to the train which would take me my local station.

Lastly from my local station it’s only about an 800m walk along quiet back streets to my house and which completed my alternative mode commute.

I’m guessing I’m fairly unique in that I’m actually able to combine all of these modes in a semi logical way – albeit one that’s definitely not going to break any speed records. At the very least it’s a n idea I can cross off a bucket list hidden somewhere. It’s also a commute I’m not likely to do again as if I’m riding it’s quicker and cheaper (because it’s free) to us the Upper Harbour route.

The question for readers is what’s the most number of modes you have used as part of your commuting and if you had to, how many could

Stuart’s 100 #9: A Gateway Village for Matiatia

9: A Gateway Village for Matiatia

Day 9

What if Matiatia had an island village to match its natural beauty?

Why do people seek to polarise ideas and pitch one thing against another in arguing for the things they want and care about? A natural human tendency perhaps but particularly unhelpful when dealing with the complex web of relationships that make up our urban areas or any ecology outside the city.

To equate all green with good and any development with bad is not a helpful or tenable position to take in discussing how Auckland show grow.

Periodic debates around the future of Matiatia on Waiheke Island are an example of this. Who said you can’t retain the things people love about its natural character and also add complementary uses that provide things people want and enjoy? Wouldn’t that be a good use of what is highly modified but under-utilised land? Wouldn’t that also be a good aspiration for so many places in Auckland and across New Zealand that are blessed by natural beauty and high ecological values but are also inhabited by people?

Matiatia

Matiatia Ferry (Image credit: Craig https://www.flickr.com/photos/craigsyd/)

19 MAY 13 20°C WAIHEKE ISLAND

Wai Kitchen, Oneroa – Strong design in a strong environment (Image credit: Sydney https://www.flickr.com/photos/eyeonauckland/ )

 

 

 

Free off-peak PT for students?

Yesterday the Green Party announced a policy of providing tertiary students and those undertaking apprenticeships with free public transport during off-peak periods. The details of the policy are:

  1. All tertiary students and apprentices will get free off-peak travel on buses, trains, and ferries with a Student Green Card. All students attending universities, wānanga, polytechnics and Private Training Establishments, as well as those training through New Zealand Apprenticeships, will be eligible for the Green Card.
  2. This will benefit up to 325,000 tertiary students, as well as approximately 28,000 people training under the New Zealand Apprenticeship scheme.
  3. Off-peak travel will be free between the hours of 9am and 3pm, and from 6.30pm until the end of service on weekdays. It also covers all weekends and public holidays.
  4. The Student Green Card will cost between $20 million-30 million per year. The costings are based on an increase in trips of 30 percent in response to the free travel on the Green Card, and would cost the Crown between $1.70-$2.20 per passenger trip. This will be funded by re-prioritised spending from the National Land Transport Fund.

All up this sounds like a university student version of a Super Gold card.

We’ve been skeptical of free public transport in the past because of its impact on costs, bus overcrowding and whether making PT free is the most effective way of increasing patronage (compared to, for example, spending that money on improving the system for everyone).

Like the Super Gold card the Greens policy reduces some of these problems by only applying in the off-peak period, when (theoretically at least, may not apply to some routes in Auckland) there is available spare capacity. Another advantage of the policy is that it’s to be funded out of the National Land Transport Fund rather than from general taxation, which means it’s money that most likely would have gone to building motorways that we don’t need.

However, it’s still an important question to ask whether this is the best way to spend $20-30 million a year to achieve the outcomes the Greens seem to be after: reducing the cost burden of transport on low income people and boosting public transport use. I tend to find myself agreeing with this tweet from Stephen Davis:

From a transport perspective, making particular trips free is unlikely to be the best way of boosting the use of a system. As Jarrett Walker notes, what we’re actually talking about is a trade-off between a fare cut (which some people benefit from) and a boost in service (which all people would benefit from):

If you want transit to be mainly for low-income people who have a low value of time, cut fares, as this is an improvement  targeted to benefit only the cost-sensitive.  By not improving service, this choice may also lead to an increased “stigma” around transit as it is perceived, with increasing accuracy, as a low-quality experience that is of no relevance to people who have choices.

If you want transit to be useful to a broad spectrum of the population, increase service.

From a cost burden perspective, it’s not that clear this is the best targeted policy either. We know from census data and other analysis (like John’s excellent post yesterday or Peter’s from a few weeks ago) that if we’re looking at reducing the financial burden of transport we should be trying to make public transport more attractive and affordable for people living in the south and west – probably people travelling to low-paid jobs rather than students who have pretty good transport options a lot of the time (especially if they’re studying in the city centre).

There are also a few slightly weird quirks in the policy:

  • Why should High School students have to pay to catch the bus on weekends but not university students?
  • Will there be huge pressure on exact 9am services or services just before 3pm in the afternoon?
  • What will the policy to do attendance levels for 9am lectures?
  • How do we stop operators ripping off the system, like it seems they sometimes have with the Super Gold Card in the past?

Overall, the policy is not terrible. There are good advantages of getting people used to catching PT at a time in their lives when they’re looking at moving out of home, potentially purchasing vehicles and making other key decisions that set in life-time travel patterns. However, on balance I just think there are probably better ways of achieving the goals the policy is aiming for. How about $20 million a year in scholarships for poorer students to attend University? How about a few million on bus lanes? How about making off-peak fares a bit cheaper (but not free) for everyone?

June 2014 Patronage

The patronage results for June are out and like recent months the results are particularly good for the rail network. The June stats are also significant as they represent the end of financial year results for Auckland transport. The 12 month figure is the highest it has been since 1959 – although of course the city had a lot less people back then.

 Auckland public transport patronage totalled 72,396,155 passengers for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +0.9% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +5.6% on the 12 months to Jun-2013.

June monthly patronage was 6,107,965, an increase of 623,266 boardings or +11.4% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +6.8% accounting for additional special event patronage and one more business day and one less weekend day in Jun-2014 compared to Jun-2013. Year to date patronage has grown by +5.6%.

Rail patronage totalled 11,435,085 passengers for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +1.7% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +13.9% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Patronage for Jun-2014 was 1,039,830, an increase of 194,491 boardings or +23.0% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +9.4%. Year to date rail patronage has grown by +13.9%.

The Northern Express bus service carried 2,426,745 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +1.0% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +6.5% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Northern Express bus service patronage for Jun-2014 was 210,069, an increase of 23,201 boardings or +12.4% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +9.1%. Year to date Northern Express patronage has grown by +6.5%.

Other bus services carried 53,424,378 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +0.8% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +4.2% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Other bus services patronage for Jun-2014 was 4,525,656, an increase of 420,821 boardings or +10.3% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +7.6%. Year to date other bus patronage has grown by +4.2%.

Ferry services carried 5,109,947 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jun-2014, a decrease of -0.3% on the 12 months to May-2014 and an increase +3.1% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Ferry services patronage for Jun-2014 was 332,410, a decrease of -15,247 boardings or -4.4% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ -7.3%. Year to date ferry patronage has increased by +3.1%.

AKL Patronage - All - Jun 14

AKL Patronage - Table - Jun 14

So rail patronage for June is up 23% on the same month a year ago while the 12 month rolling figure is up 14%, both are massive numbers. If we were able to keep up that rate of growth it would see us hitting the 20 million rail patronage target set by the government for the City Rail Link by the end of 2018. With the upcoming improvements from rolling out the electric trains to the majority of the network, the new bus network, integrated fares and other enhancements I think this rate of growth (or more) is eminently possible.

One of the important results is also to see the impact on patronage to Onehunga which has been the first to get electric trains – despite the recent hiccup. Patronage to Onehunga is up a staggering 37%. It seems the public are already responding the the improved quality of services and it’s something I’ve seen first hand with Onehunga Line trains often full in the mornings despite having significantly more capacity than the trains  they replaced.

You may also remember the patronage targets for the next few years were recently reduced after AT said the already reduced targets were basically impossible. Here’s how the rail patronage result looks compared to the target.

Rail Patronage vs SOI target 2013-14

In the end the result was only a few thousand short of the target. With only an extra 700,000 trips a year now needed to reach the newly lowered target for 2014/15 I expect it will be surpassed early. Someone should also tell Manurewa Local Board Chairperson Angela Dalton that patronage is rising as she is busy trying to say the opposite.

People will continue to abandon the trains in favour of cars until such time as there is attention focussed on security issues at suburban train stations instead of committing rate payers money into the City Rail Link,” Angela Dalton said.

Along with rail it’s also pleasing to see that bus patronage continues to grow too. This is quite important as it shows that all PT use is rising and that the increases in rail patronage aren’t simply a result of people shifting from bus to train.

All up a good result for PT and in other good news Cycling continues to grow strongly at the sites monitored by ATs automatic cycle counters. For June the result was up 11.4% while the 12 month rolling figure was up 10%

AKL Cycling- Jun 14

Considering the heightened discussion surrounding the traffic on the Harbour Bridge it’s also worth highlighting what’s happening with traffic on the bridge. As you can see vehicle volumes continue to struggle to get above 160,000 trips, something that was a regular occurrence  before 2007

AHB - All -2013-14

 

PT fares change today

Public transport fares have changed today and despite cash fares increasing, for the majority of users the cost of using PT has dropped thanks to an increase in the HOP discount. As I said back when the change was announced.

Overall I think this is a very good move by AT. By raising the cash fares but also increasing the HOP discount it does two things.

  1. It increases the differential between cash and HOP fares which will help make HOP more attractive. More people using HOP is good, particularly for buses as it speeds up boarding time.
  2. Over 60% of all trips now take place using HOP, that means for the majority of PT users these changes will actually represent a decrease in fares.

As of the end of May 64% of bus and train users were already using HOP cards and I suspect it has grown further during June. Since the change was announced I’ve also heard of people who have brought a HOP card simply because of the changes which are clearly designed to encourage greater use of HOP.

The adult bus and train fares changes are below.

July 2014 Fare changes

No everyone has benefited though with most ferry fares increasing.

I think it will be a fascinating to see what happens with patronage which has been growing strongly in recent months and I hope will continue to do so.

In addition to the fare changes, last week AT quietly introduced daily passes on HOP. The daily passes work in the same way and with the same zones as the monthly passes yet oddly despite there being an inner zone there isn’t an inner zone daily pass. There also aren’t any child pricing options. The costs are:

  • Zones A & B – $16
  • Zones A, B & C – $22

The map below shows the zones.

Daily Pass Zone

It seems like there is still some way to go before this can be a product easily used by many people

Duncan Garner on using Public Transport

Radio Live host Duncan Garner decided to have a car-free day on Sunday and take his family from Avondale to Devonport using public transport. He has written about his experience here and it highlights many of the things wrong with our current system. He starts:

So, we decided to have a car-free day on Sunday. We had four kids and the wife and I decided to take them to Devonport to climb North Head, explore the tunnels and have some lunch. We arrived at Avondale station, close to where we live to take the train. First mistake: the Mrs read an expired timetable at home and we arrived as a train was just about to leave. Did they see us? Yes. Did it stop and let us on? No. No worries! Our mistake. So the wife pulled out her ‘Hop Card’ and tried to buy us a family pass to Britomart. Did it happen? No. Is a family pass an option? No. Hopeless. So we bought four kids tickets and two adults. Total cost – $19.40.

After going on to describe his day in more detail he ends with a summary of his impressions

So what are my impressions of going car-less? 1. It’s actually harder and you have to plan meticulously. 2. It’s not cheap – the return train cost us $36.20 – that’s a lot of petrol in my car. 3. It takes longer to get places because it’s not point to point. 4. Why couldn’t I buy return tickets at Avondale train station? 5. Why couldn’t I buy a family pass or off peak pass? 6. Why do they offer cheaper prices at Britomart but not at outer suburban stations? 7. As a first time user my wife’s hop card did not work for the train and therefore we flagged it for the ferry. We paid cash. It’s not user-friendly for families. 8. Why were there four ticket inspectors on my train on Sunday afternoon? Almost one per passenger. 9. It involves a lot of walking and we were all stuffed by 7pm Sunday evening. All up, it cost me $68.20 to get to Devonport with my family – that was return. I could get almost ¾ of a tank of gas for that. And I could have driven point to point. I want to use public transport, but it needs to be cheaper and it needs to go to more places, more often – but that won’t happen unless we get the incentives right. Let’s get this right. Let’s make it cheaper. Let’s get people on the trains and buses. There is still plenty of work to be done.

A couple of the points he makes I think are a little bit wide of the mark, for example the ticket inspectors need to be seen on a variety of services to be effective and surely a degree of walking was always going to be needed however his comments about the cost of tickets and how easy (or not) it is to buy them are what AT need to take on board.

Auckland Transport seem to primarily focus their attention and pricing on competing for solo trips to and from town and there has been almost no consideration of people who might want to travel in a group. That can mean even just travelling as a couple can be more expensive than a car and parking. Family passes are one solution to trips like the ones Duncan made however as he found out, they are only available at a handful of stations making them useless to most people.

The range and pricing for group travel leaves a lot to be desired which is a great shame as particularly on weekends they represent a great opportunity for people to try out the system as part of a family outing.

Downtown to Takapuna: A great, underappreciated cycle commute

This is another post from Peter who you can see we’ve now allowed to post directly [ Matt]

I recently started a new job in Takapuna. Unfortunately, it’s just far enough away from my home on the isthmus to be inconvenient for commuting purposes. Driving means winding through town to get to the motorway and then dealing with the traffic freakshow on Esmonde Road. Taking the bus means transferring in town, and sometimes a 10-15 minute wait if you’re unlucky. (Or worse. Last Friday I mistakenly got on the 922 bus, which only goes to Takapuna after a half-hour tiki tour through Birkenhead and Northcote. If you’re going to Takapuna, take the 839, 858, 875, 879, or 895 instead.)

So when the weather and my out-of-shape thighs permit, I’ve been cycling up to Takapuna. Even without the Skypath, this is proving to be surprisingly easy. I cycle down Symonds St to the ferry building, take the ferry across to Bayswater, and then cycle up to Takapuna on the Bayswater pipe bridge and shared path, which lets me avoid battling traffic on Lake Road. (See map below.)

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna Map

If you commute to Takapuna from the city centre or inner suburbs, I highly recommend that you consider taking the bike. On a good day, I can make it to work in 40-45 minutes, which is competitive with cars and faster than the bus. (Getting back’s a bit harder as I have to go uphill, but I can still do it in 50-55 minutes.) You get to ride on a completely uncrowded ferry, which seems to be a rare experience in Auckland these days. Cycling on the shore side is very safe, as Bayswater Avenue doesn’t get a lot of cars, and the shared path gets none.

And it’s a really beautiful ride to boot. Probably one of the best cycle commutes in Auckland.

And now, for the Tour de Bayswater by cameraphone.

Here’s the view from the Bayswater Ferry back to the city centre on a sunny morning. The ferry runs every half-hour during the peak periods, and hourly during the middle of the day (see the pdf timetable). I was running a bit late on the morning I took these pictures, so I cycled like mad down Symonds St only to have to wait on the wharf as the ferry emptied out.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 1

The ferry is always completely full with commuters when it arrives in town at 8:20 – but I’m usually the only person to get on in the other direction. That is an insanely unbalanced peak flow!

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 2

The bike racks are completely full on the Bayswater side – in fact, they seem to be fuller than the expansive park-and-ride. Auckland Transport seems to recognise that a lot of cyclists use the ferry. A few weeks ago I got a quick bike tune-up and hot chocolate at a winter pit-stop sponsored by AT and Bikewise.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 3

Then it’s up a small hill and onto Bayswater Avenue, which is dead quiet at this hour. Many of the kids at the local Belmont Primary cycle or walk to school, which cuts down the traffic quite a bit. I usually only see three or four cars.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 4

And then it’s off the road and onto the shared path down the side of O’Neill’s Cemetery. At 8:40 in the morning, it’s generally populated by dog-walkers, who sometimes need a bit of notice of approaching cyclists.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 5

The new pipeline bridge is fantastic. You feel like you’re gliding over the mangrove flats, which can be a pretty extraordinary sight on a good morning. It’s also a perfect demonstration of how good cycling infrastructure can make biking easier by linking up areas that are hard to move between by car. It adds a direct connection between two of the little finger peninsulas on the shore.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 6

The shared path wends its way around the bays before terminating at Francis Street. From there, it’s an uphill cycle to Jutland Road, another low-traffic side street.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 7

The intersection of Jutland Road and Lake Road isn’t fantastic. The curb bulbs out just before the intersection, forcing cyclists to squeeze between the cars while making the turn. Frustratingly, this intersection leads to the painted cycle lanes on Lake Road.

For safety’s sake, I usually hop up onto the sidewalk around this intersection. This isn’t an option on the trip back, so I usually do a hook turn using the pedestrian crossing button. I have to wonder what AT was thinking when they built such a terrible intersection between two of the major bits of cycle infrastructure on the shore.

Jutland Rd / Lake Rd intersection 1: Where’s the space for cyclists?

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 8

Jutland Rd / Lake Rd intersection 2: Still not seeing any space for cyclists.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 9

Jutland Rd / Lake Rd intersection 3: The painted cycle lane appears, at long last, in the left corner of this photo.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 10

Moreover, the painted cycle lanes on Lake Road end in a dangerous way at the intersection with Esmonde Road. Rather than continuing along Lake Road to Takapuna, they take a left and go part of the way down Esmonde Road (i.e. towards the motorway interchange) before vanishing entirely. There’s no obvious, direct way for cyclists to continue through the intersection, which forces me to merge across a lane of left-turning traffic. Fortunately, traffic speeds slow down a bit north of the intersection, which means that the last bit of the ride is civil.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 11

I probably haven’t picked the right time of year to start cycling to work – being winter and all – but it can be a pretty rewarding trip back at the end of the day. The ferry provides an impressive view of the harbour at dusk. Here’s a last look at our beloved coathanger and a few of Auckland’s many sails:

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 12

What’s happening with the HOP daily passes

For a number of months earlier this year the Auckland Transport Board Reports included the following lines.

March Meeting

Testing of a new AT HOP Day Pass is underway for targeted introduction by April 2014 across bus, rail and ferry. The pass will offer greater flexibility through three separate geographic zones compared with the existing and to be withdrawn paper Discovery Day Pass

April Meeting

Testing of a new AT HOP Day Pass is underway for targeted introduction by May 2014 across bus, rail and ferry. The pass will offer greater flexibility through three separate geographic zones compared with the existing and to be withdrawn paper Discovery Day Pass. Existing Discovery Day Pass will remain in market until at least 31st May, to ensure customers still have access to multi-modal travel product

April and May came and went with no sign of a daily pass and in the May meeting the references to it disappeared completely. Reader Nigel Jones decided to try and find out what had happened with the day pass so lodged an LGOIMA request with AT to find out. He’s now had the results back and has written about it here. This post will be largely based on his post.

As part of their response to Nigel, Auckland Transport have confirmed the primary issue has been related to technical issues

Daily Pass delay

However going through the responses Nigel found more detailed information on the issues AT were having. These include:

  1. Machines having taking up to 10 seconds to read the cards.
  2. Issues with apportioning revenue to operators – a great example of why we need to get the new PTOM contracts rolled out so AT don’t have to worry about this stuff.
  3. Inconsistent treatment of how the passes are sold depending on the channel
  4. Trouble with purchasing different zone products on the same card- i.e. if you have a monthly pass for one zone but want a daily pass for travel to another zone it won’t work on the same card

Some potential mitigation options for the issues were listed as

  • Delay the daily pass implementation – something that had had already been done twice
  • Reduce the number of pass options from 6 originally proposed.
  • Setting up different processes to account for the apportionment issue.
  • Accept the limitations and try to explain them in the comms process.

All up it seems like a pretty messy affair although one not all uncommon with technology development. However I can’t help but think the whole thing is something that they should have been on to much much sooner. I’m also concerned that are implementing a daily pass option which is something you have to know you want to purchase at the start of the day rather than developing a more customer friendly daily cap which effectively allows for free travel after you’ve spent a certain amount.

AT’s most recent board report states that the pass will be available in July/August and I understand the official roll out date will be 1st July with RadioNZ reporting passes will cost between $16 and $22

AT proposing more ferries to Gulf Harbour

There are many aspects that need to come together for a successful and well used public transport system. Above all else, frequency is the single most important one of these and as the saying goes, Frequency is Freedom. So it’s good to see Auckland Transport proposing to increase the number of ferry services to and from Gulf Harbour.

Good news for residents and visitors to Gulf Harbour, the number of ferry sailings each day between Gulf Harbour and Auckland is increasing to 12.

During peak times sailings will increase from two to three with another two sailings each way in the middle of the day, which should appeal to workers and students alike. There are now shopping and visiting options for those not needing to travel at peak times.

Auckland Transport wants the community to get involved and for people to have their say on the proposed timetable.

Auckland Transport Group Manager Public Transport Services, Mark Lambert says this draft timetable is the result of feedback AT has received about improving services to Gulf Harbour.

“It’s important to get behind these initiatives so that we can further improve public transport options for all Auckland residents.

“We want to hear from both current and potential users if these sailing times are right for them,” says Mr Lambert.

Fairway Bay Development consultant Michael Webb-Speight says “The survey we ran last year showed huge demand for increased ferry services. We are very keen for people to get involved and have their say. These additional sailings will make a huge difference to Whangaparaoa Peninsula commuters working in the CBD.”

As part of the process ferry operator 360 Discovery Cruises will be handing out information flyers to existing ferry passengers, and thousands of questionnaires will be mail dropped over the next week with the objective of canvassing both bus and car commuters.
360 Discovery Cruises Manager, James Bailey, says strong growth in passenger numbers has already been experienced due to increasing congestion on the motorway system. “It’s only 50 minutes by ferry from Gulf Harbour to the city, which is a lot less than the driving time from many suburbs.”

The new timetable could start next month subject to consultation.

Consultation closes Sunday 29 June.

You can see the consultation here.

There are currently only four services a day so increasing that to 12 is a substantial and positive increase. Here are the proposed changes to the timetable

Gulf Harbour Ferry Consultation

The services are still a long way off being frequent – and probably won’t ever be good enough to be part of the Frequent Network but it does seem like a move in the right direction.

AT say that if this change happens it will likely be implemented in July and the changes will be reviewed again after 12 months. They also say they are expecting to consult on the New Network bus routes for the Hibiscus Coast area in July and that it includes improved bus/ferry connections.