Bases close, but 50 fare difference

By Mathew Dearnaley

The Birkenhead ferry multi-ride ticket and the new Auckland Transport Hop card. Photo / Greg Bowker
The Birkenhead ferry multi-ride ticket and the new Auckland Transport Hop card. Photo / Greg Bowker

Patrons of a new ferry service between Hobsonville and Auckland will pay 50 per cent more than people boarding the same vessel at nearby Beach Haven.

They will be charged $12 if paying cash for the 30-minute trip from Monday, compared with a fare of $8 covering a slightly longer distance from just across the Upper Waitemata Harbour, from an upgraded Beach Haven ferry terminal.

Those using Hop cards will be charged discounted fares of $9.20c from a new covered ferry wharf at Hobsonville Pt, or $6.40c from Beach Haven.

Auckland Transport, which has contracted ferry operator 360 Discovery to run an 80-seater catamaran, blames the wide price difference on a need to keep fares in line with those of competing bus services.

"The aim is to keep ferry travel to and from Beach Haven comparable with bus travel there," spokesman Mark Hannan said.

He would not disclose subsidy amounts which the council organisation is paying the Fullers-owned ferry company for two morning sailings and three return afternoon services.

With a gala opening ceremony for the new 70m ferry wharf on Sunday in the presence of Prime Minister John Key, who is the local Helensville MP, Hobsonville Land Company chief executive Chris Aitken was not inclined yesterday to rock the boat over the price difference.

"The feedback from our residents is they haven't been worried by that," he said.

"Their view is they are here and it's going to cost what it costs from here, and the feedback so far is that it is just going to be great to have that facility."

But Mr Aitken noted that his company had nothing to do with fares set by Auckland Transport, despite contributing $900,000 to the $3.2 million cost of the new wharf, which includes a large deck for the public to enjoy harbour views.

Auckland Transport has also spent $1.2 million upgrading the Beach Haven wharf.

- NZ Herald

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