Sunday, April 14, 2024

Pine Harbour weekend ferries are a go

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The ferry timetable for the upcoming six-week trial is available on AT’s website.

Auckland Transport (AT) has given the green light for a weekend ferry trial from Pine Harbour to the City Centre (CBD) after years of rallying by local residents.

Franklin Local Board announced on March 1 that there would be Pine Harbour ferry trials each weekend for six weeks from March 19 to April 25, including Good Friday, Easter Monday and Anzac Day. The timetable for the ferries has been officially published on AT’s website.

The announcement is a welcome one to Beachlands and Maraetai residents. As of March 7, a petition requesting the resumption of weekend ferry services from Pine Harbour to Waiheke Island and Auckland CBD had 1235 signatures.

Malcolm Bell, a Franklin Board member, says that, they’ve been working towards this trial for years. “Angela Fulljames (fellow Franklin Board member) and I had high-level meetings with SeaLink management about six years ago,” Bell says.

“It was not just weekend ferries; it was also increasing the day-to-day frequency of the sailings.

“It’s been a long process.”

Bell says what he thinks finally made the difference was, along with the assistance of the Pohutukawa Coast Community Association (PCCA), AT seeing the popularity of similar weekend ferry services on other routes.

“Logically, and hopefully, they will be popular at Pine Harbour as well.”

SeaLink and AT are going into it with their eyes open, Bell says. “They know that Covid-19 is around and whatever usage we get, may well have been higher if we didn’t have Covid.”

Natalie Polley, spokesperson for AT, says funding availability “has been the main consideration than AT has had to overcome”.

“Now the budget is available, we are able to provide an initial trial of weekend services to enable ourselves and SeaLink to test operational and timetable design, prior to the commencement of a permanent service offering in the future.

“We were planning on trialling a weekend service back in 2020, but then Covid-19 hit.

Continued support from the Franklin Local Board and the local community has allowed AT to prioritise funding this year to undergo the trial.”

Based on the success of the trial, AT will look to establish a permanent weekend service later in the year.

Polley says that the success will be based on several factors – patronage, the ability to continue to run a reliable weekday service, customer satisfaction/feedback and operational impacts being kept to a minimum.

On the first service to the CBD on March 19 at 9.50am, Franklin Local Board members Andrew Baker, Angela Fulljames and Malcolm Bell will be welcoming locals onboard.

Bell says the 99-seater ferry will be used for all weekend sailings in the six-week trial.

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