Frustrated residents of an Auckland community are forking out from their own pockets for a new weekend ferry service.
Hobsonville Point residents last night voted in favour of partially funding a new weekend ferry service to and from the CBD.
Chris Aiken, chief executive of Homes. Land. Community. (HLC) which is master-planning Hobsonville Point and which was also home to this year's TV series The Block, said residents voted at their annual general meeting last night.
Residents in the community - where 4000 new homes are being built - currently only have week-day ferry services and have long been frustrated about the lack of weekend boat transport to the CBD.
"They voted in favour of part-funding a weekend ferry service trial," said Aiken, who also lives at the Point.
"This must be the first time a local community has done something like this. Very proud of my farsighted and now-very influential fellow neighbours."
This month, he revealed plans for HLC to contribute about $200,000 for weekend ferry services trials.
A proposal was put forward for residents to pay around $50,000 from a community fund run by the Hobsonville Point Residents Society, which collects an annual levy of $200 per household.
Residents' society treasurer Sarah Curtis told a meeting of around 300 locals last night that AT will invoice the residents monthly on a pro rata basis, meaning the $50,000 (or $4166 a month) payment could be lower if ferry usage turns out to be higher than a modest forecast.
Aiken said Auckland Transport did not have the money to fund the extra services, so this was the best solution. The weekend service would initially run as a trial for about a year to gauge community support, he said.
HLC did not see it as its job to completely fund the service, nor to support it if enough residents did not use it, he indicated.
James Ireland, Auckland Transport's media advisor, said this morning a joint funding agreement was already in place between NZTA and AT for a weekend trial service between the Point and CBD.
That was due to start in September next year "but we're working with NZTA to try to bring that forward".
There will be thirteen return sailings per weekend under the trial.
NZTA had allocated $550,000 for the scheme, he said, and AT's contribution is yet to be finalised.
New businesses at Catalina Bay on the Hobsonville Point waterfront, which include the Farmers Market, the newly-opened Fabric Bistro and Lion's in-progress $20m project to covert an old air force hanger into a Little Creatures craft brewery, restaurant and cafe, are being asked to chip in around $117,000 for the trial.
Lion chief MD Rory Glass earlier said his company was among those pushing for more ferry sailings. Little Creatures, bought by Lion in 2012, successfully launched similar craft breweries in Fremantle and Geelong outside Melbourne on a similar model.
If the one-year trial is a success, AT will pick up the full tab from that point on.
Success will be judged by whether or not ferry usage increases over the trial period. The meeting was told the average Auckland ferry runs at 35% capacity.
A weekday commuter ferry service, already in place, costs $20 for a return fare to the city or $15 with a HOP card. The two morning sailings are often packed to 100% capacity with some passengers required to stand, but return from the city nearly empty, meaning AT rates them at 50% capacity.
"It's great that residents feel so strongly about improved ferry services that they are willing to put in some of their own money," Ireland said.
The wharf at the community was also funded in a joint effort. In 2012, Auckland Transport and what was then called the Hobsonville Land Company announced they had agreed joint funding for construction.
That then allowed the first ferry services to run between the Point and downtown Auckland.
Auckland Transport paid for 80 per cent of the $2.85 million ferry terminal project, with the remainder funded by development partner HLC.