Ferry commuters biggest losers as travel passes axed

By Mathew Dearnaley

Critics say move forcing more cars onto road.

Many ferry users will be worse off under the new system. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Many ferry users will be worse off under the new system. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Auckland Transport has axed travel passes aimed at encouraging North Shore ferry users to catch feeder buses or trains to the waterfront.

That has community leaders concerned about extra traffic congestion along Lake Rd on the Devonport peninsula, a sign some commuters have abandoned public transport to drive to work.

Although the council transport organisation says only about 110 of the ferry-based tickets were sold a week, their abolition on Saturday is a precursor to the removal next month of bus passes used by almost 3000 North Shore passengers.

It intends getting rid of the Northern Passes on September 7, as part of the rollout to buses of its $100 million Hop electronic ticketing system, but says most passengers will be no worse and, in some cases, better off financially from successive changes.

Although adults travelling from the upper North Shore could save $16 by swapping to $190 monthly passes, those from south of Constellation Drive face a $28 rise, while students and the disabled stand to pay up to $90 extra depending on distance travelled.

But the impact of the changes goes beyond the North Shore, with Highland Park resident Selena Donaldson saying yesterday her family cannot afford an almost 75 per cent increase in her husband's commuting cost from Glen Innes to the Devonport Naval Base.

She said that followed the removal of a deal that allowed him to travel by train to Britomart and then across the harbour by ferry for $41 a week.

He had instead started driving to Devonport rather than pay an extra $30.60 a week under the new system.

Ms Donaldson said it was unfair to have received just two weeks' notice of the abolition of the Devonport Bayswater Pass, which allowed up to two stages of either bus travel to ferry wharves from the north, or two stages of rail trips from the south.

Devonport-Takapuna Community Board chairman Chris Darby said people had told him they were "being forced onto an already congested Lake Rd".

Although there were plans to widen the road for $54 million between Hauraki Corner and Belmont by 2022, an "interesting tension" was developing between those keen for the project to be accelerated and others saying "the last thing we want is a four-lane highway down the peninsula".

"There are multiple and positive benefits with the rollout of Hop but ferries are the missing mode and ferry users are already wearing it pretty hard," he said.

Auckland Transport spokesman Wally Thomas said the concept behind Hop was to offer fair prices for all. "This inevitably meant some legacy passes that don't fit in the current system configuration would have to be withdrawn. Some of these passes cater for very few passengers."

End is nigh
*Gone August 17: abolition of Devonport Bayswater Pass covering ferries and either rail trips from the south or bus travel from the south - 110 sold weekly.
*Going September 7: Northern Pass for discount bus travel from North Shore across the harbour bridge - 2870 sold weekly.

- NZ Herald

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