The issue of weekend sailings (or lack thereof) from Pine Harbour to the CBD has again reared its head locally after a series of grapevine posts.
The issue has been a constant sense of frustration for many in Beachlands and beyond, who appear to be no closer to a resolution. In a rapidly growing area such as Beachlands the lack of weekend and late-night Friday trips, coupled with limited bus services, is creating growing discourse.
A survey undertaken by the Pohutakawa Coast Community Association (which prompted a further AT feasibility study in 2019), showed an overwhelming majority of local people supported the idea of weekend sailings.
Auckland Transport’s (AT) stance at the time was that it was uneconomic to run end of week services.
Local business owner Alex Garden, who is an active campaigner in the weekend sailings movement, spoke with the PC Times and said he is “getting a bit over the lack of action. I’ve seen what PCCA have written previously and have discussed with them (AT). I’ve talked with Malcolm Bell (Franklin local board member) who says the FLB are continually lobbying for them, but still no progress.”
In terms of raw data, AT figures state that in 2019 Pine Harbour had an average daily passenger count of 780, which dropped down to 470 during covid-affected 2020.
A graph provided to PC Times by Mr Garden from an AT Board report shows that ferries are subsidised at a rate significantly less than bus and rail services, most likely due to patronage.
A tender for a future ferry development programme to be initiated for Auckland’s waterways was advertised by AT in 2019. The tender called for a private contractor to be responsible for provision of services from stops within the existing network. The tender appeared to have fallen by the wayside due to funding issues and an inability to identify a preferred supplier.
The PC Times approached Auckland Transport and asked them about the current state of the tender. Media Manager Mark Hannan said, “AT is currently developing a Future Ferry Investment Programme Business Case, which will be submitted to Auckland Council and Waka Kotahi (NZTA) for approval.”
He added, “We are currently reviewing the provision of all public transport services across Auckland in line with our plans and budgets, this business case will set out the recommended future investment programme in the ferry network over the short, medium and long term.”
When asked what (if any) action is forthcoming on weekend sailings in the near future, it appeared the status quo will be retained for the time being.
Mr Hannan said “In the Regional Public Transport Plan, Auckland Transport does want to introduce weekend services to Pine Harbour in the next few years. However, funding is not available for this.”