Waiheke Island commuters are crying foul after two ferries broke down on the eve of fare rises.
Although most fares rose on Friday, they are asking ferry operator Fullers to defer an increase yet to be imposed on monthly concession-holders, as compensation for inconvenience suffered the day before.
That was when a ferry which left Waiheke for Auckland at 6.40am had to turn back with a mechanical problem, to be followed by more trouble aboard the larger Superflyte on its 7.15am run.
"We limped all the way to Auckland, taking 1.5 hours to get to town," said one commuter in an email to the Herald. "The 8am sailing was also packed into a boat too small for everyone.
"We have just suffered another fare rise - and yet again have faced a winter of failing boats and poor service."
Fullers spokeswoman Delyth Morgan-Coughlan said that although the two breakdowns were unfortunate, both vessels were back in service in time for Friday morning sailings, and the latest increases from an annual fare review were unavoidable.
She said the breakdowns came while the company's other large vessel, the Quickcat, was out of service on a maintenance survey.
That meant a greater reliance than usual on smaller vessels, although the Quickcat would be back on the run at the end of this month.
Ms Morgan-Coughlan said the fare rises averaged 1.87 per cent and Fullers was delaying increasing the price of monthly tickets until November 1. Their price would rise by 1.4 per cent, from $350 to $355.
Although that will be less than the average rise, another ferry user said a 6.7 per cent increase on Friday for family return tickets - from $89 to $95 - would be hard on people visiting the island.By Mathew Dearnaley Email Mathew