A slew of Auckland’s ferry services will stop running from October 1 as the city’s ferry operator has to train new crew and can’t provide a service in the meantime.
Fullers360 will stop running services to Birkenhead, Te Onewa Northcote Pt and Bayswater. Ferries to Gulf Harbour and Half Moon Bay will operate on a reduced timetable for more than 18 months.
Auckland Transport’s (AT) executive general manager of public transport services Stacey van der Putten said they were trying to find a new ferry operator to run the services.
Van der Putten said AT was “exploring options” for more bus services to fill the service gap, acknowledging the suspensions would be “disappointing for affected communities”.
Kaipatiki Local Board member Melanie Kenrick told the Herald the cuts “will be hugely disappointing for the communities who live in Northcote Pt and Birkenhead Pt”.
“I know this will result [in] many [in] the community choosing to use private vehicles to commute to work,” Kenrick said.
Northcote MP Shanan Halbert said AT was “giving up on our local ferry service”, calling it an “unacceptable blow” for the community.
“Our ferry network is a vital part of our integrated transport plan in Auckland, alongside the need to add additional Harbour Crossings,” Halbert said.
“Residents deserve reliable and frequent transport options to help reduce congestion.”
Halbert called for AT to consider other ferry operators immediately, regardless of existing arrangements.
Van der Putten said the shortage of qualified mariners was causing the issue: “The ongoing shortage ... means it is not possible to reliably run AT’s full ferry network and to train meaningful numbers of new ferry crew members at the same time.”
Fullers360 chief executive Mike Horne said there was “no quick fix” to resolving the skill shortage plaguing the city’s ferries.
“With support from Auckland Transport to redistribute our resources to accelerate training and development, we will be able to progress up to 30 qualified crew to either deckhand or skipper in the next 14-18 months,” Horne said.
Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.